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Streetwise Streetwise newsletter: Aphria CEO to step down, sources say; Equitable Bank calls for increase to limit on covered bonds

Here are the top reads on deals and financial services over the last 24 hours,

Aphria CEO to step down, sources say: Vic Neufeld will step down as chief executive officer of Aphria Inc., sources say, when the cannabis grower finds a replacement for him, the company is expected to announce on Friday. Aphria, which has been facing questions about its deal-making and a slumping stock price, is expected to say that it is beginning a search for someone to replace Mr. Neufeld in the top job, which he has held since 2014. The company, one of the largest Canadian marijuana producers, is also set to release its quarterly results on Friday. Story (Marina Strauss, Christina Pellegrini, for subscribers)

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Haywood defends Aphria deal: Investment bank Haywood Securities Inc. is defending its work on a recent Aphria Inc. deal after two short-sellers took aim at the cannabis grower last month, sparking a dramatic selloff in the company’s shares. Story (Christina Pellegrini, for subscribers)

Equitable Bank calls for increase to limit on covered bonds: Equitable Bank is calling on regulators to boost the current limit on covered bonds, arguing that it would level the playing field for smaller banks and make the Canadian mortgage industry more competitive. Story (Alexandra Posadzki, for subscribers)

SemGroup, KKR form joint venture in Alberta oil patch: SemGroup Corp. and private-equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. LP are bucking a gloomy investment climate in Canada’s energy sector by forming an infrastructure joint venture and spending $600-million to snap up rival natural gas processor Meritage Midstream. Story (Jeffrey Jones, for subscribers)

Why do video games use stronger security than some Canadian banks?: I spent one of my holiday afternoons this year at a bank, with two tellers and a manager, having my debit card reissued and access to my accounts restored. All of this because my top Canadian bank lacked tools that are commonplace today in video games. It was a late morning in December when I made a simple mistake, adding my bank details to a budgeting app. In today’s cloud-centric world, logging in from somewhere or something new shouldn’t be an issue – but in this case it was. An automated process froze my account. When I called to have it unfrozen, I was told to visit town, find a branch office and confirm my identity in person. Oh, and to do this during holiday hours. Opinion (Ian Paterson)

MORE FINANCIAL SERVICES NEWS

Layoffs: BlackRock Inc., the largest fund manager in the world, plans to cut 500 jobs, or 3 per cent of its work force, in coming weeks, according to a memo reviewed by Reuters on Thursday. Story

MORE DEALS NEWS

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Retail sector: Sears Holdings Corp. chairman Eddie Lampert submitted a revised takeover bid of more than $5 billion for the company, according to a regulatory filing made on Thursday, significantly increasing the likelihood the U.S. department store will be able to stay in business. Story

Loyalty sector: Air Canada has completed its purchase of the Aeroplan loyalty program from Aimia Inc., assuring customers their miles will be honoured on a “one-to-one basis” when the airline’s new rewards program launches in 2020. Story (for subscribers)

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