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

Vanguard’s next big goal? Cutting the cost of advice: Vanguard Group Inc. last year introduced a breakthrough product that slashed the cost of a simple buy-and-hold balanced portfolio to a new low in Canada. Now, the exchange-traded fund giant is preparing for its next disruption: the cost of advice. Known as asset allocation exchange-traded funds, the Vanguard product provides investors with various mixes of stocks and bonds in a single fund that automatically rebalances with annual management fees of 0.22 per cent – a fraction of a typical mutual fund fee. Vanguard has recently added two more funds to its lineup to include an all-equity balanced ETF and an income product. Story (Clare O’Hara, for subscribers)

Toronto Life owner St. Joseph Communications to buy Rogers magazines: Rogers Communications Inc. is exiting the magazine business after a months-long search for a buyer ended with a deal to sell Maclean’s and six other titles to Toronto Life owner St. Joseph Communications. Story (Christine Dobby, for subscribers)


Earnings: Power Financial Corp. announced a quarterly dividend increase Wednesday as it reported a fourth-quarter profit of $478 million. Story (for subscribers)

Bank merger: Deutsche Bank AG’s merger talks with Commerzbank AG have put its 10,000 U.S. workers on edge, three employees told Reuters, with some concerned a deal could pressure Deutsche to further shrink or even dispose of its U.S. businesses. Story

International banking: Citigroup Inc. plans to sell several tons of gold placed as collateral by Venezuela’s central bank on a $1.6 billion loan after the deadline for repurchasing them expired this month, sources said, a setback for President Nicolas Maduro’s efforts to hold onto the country’s fast-shrinking reserves. Story (for subscribers)


Media sector: “Everything the light touches is our kingdom.” It’s a line from Disney’s The Lion King, spoken by Mufasa to young Simba as they sit atop Pride Rock. And on Wednesday morning, just after midnight on the East Coast, it seemed to describe the Walt Disney Co. itself, as the conglomerate closed its $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets. It is now an entertainment colossus the size of which the world has never seen. Story


The First Time Home Buyer Incentive is bad policy: Housing is increasingly unaffordable in Canada, particularly in Toronto and Vancouver. A centrepiece of the 2019 federal budget is a package of housing policy changes including the First Time Home Buyer Incentive. Effectively, Ottawa will pay up to 10 per cent of the mortgage in exchange for home equity, reducing mortgage payments for first-time buyers. The program is limited to mortgages up to four times a buyer’s annual income, with a cap of $120,000. Opinion (John Pasalis and Kevin Bryan, for subscribers)

Federal budget 2019: Ottawa wants transparency from big banks about diversity targets: The federal government plans to compel Canada’s banks to be more transparent about their plans to increase diversity among board members and senior executives. A single sentence in Tuesday’s federal budget promises “new requirements for federally regulated financial institutions to disclose policies aimed at promoting greater diversity on boards and in senior management.” Story (James Bradshaw, for subscribers)

Federal budget 2019: Liberals raise stock option taxes on high-paid executives: The federal government dusted off an old campaign promise Tuesday by pledging in the budget to increase taxation on the stock option gains of some of Canada’s most highly paid executives, a move seen as an attempt to siphon support from the New Democratic Party. “It’s a political move going into [this fall’s] election … they’re doing this to outfight the NDP,” said Toby Sanger, executive director of Canadians for Tax Fairness, a lobby group primarily funded by labour organizations. “They’re going after the 1 per cent” – the highest-income earners in the country. Story (Sean Silcoff and David Milstead, for subscribers)

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