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Student Transportation has 11,500 vehicles in Ontario and a number of U.S. states.Ian Sorensen/The Globe and Mail

Our roundup of Canadian small-caps of between $100-million and $2.5-billion in market capitalization making news in the post- and pre-market.

Student Transportation Inc. (STB-T; STB-Q) says it has an agreement to be acquired by a group of investors led by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec for US$7.50 per share.

The deal represents a 27-per-cent premium to the 20-day volume weighted average price per common share on the Toronto Stock Exchange for the period ending Feb. 27, based on an exchange rate of $1.28 Canadian dollars per U.S. dollars, the company said.

"This transaction presents a compelling opportunity for our investors to monetize their investment at an attractive price. CDPQ has been invested in our company for 16 years and for most of that time as our largest shareholder," stated STI CEO Denis Gallagher.


NuVista Energy Ltd. (NVA-T) says it has an underwriting agreement to sell, on a private placement basis, $220-million senior unsecured notes. "This represents an upsizing from the previously announced offering of $150-million," the company stated.


Pason Systems Inc. (PSI-T) reported revenue of $66.2-million in the fourth quarter, up 36 per cent from $48.8-million in the same period of 2016.  The expectation was for revenue of $64.6-million. Adjusted EBITDA was $27.8-million, an 83-per-cent increase from the same period of 2016. Net income was $5-million or 6 cents per share versus a net loss of $10.4-million or 12 cents per share.


First National Financial Corp. (FN-T) reported net income of $45.9-million or 75 cents per share in the fourth quarter, which was in line with expectations and compared to $71.8-million or $1.18 per share a year ago. Revenue was 7 per cent lower at $270-million compared to $290.8-million a year ago


Dream Unlimited Corp. (DRM-T) reported fourth-quarter revenue of $144.6-million up from $88.6-million.  Earnings were 45 cents per share versus 23 cents per share a year earlier.


Northview Apartment Real Estate Investment Trust (NVU.UN-T) reported diluted funds from operations of 51 cents in the fourth quarter compared to 48 cents a year earlier.

Net operating income was $47.4-million in the quarter, up from $43.6-million a year earlier.


Laurentian Bank of Canada (LB-T) said on Wednesday it was continuing to review problematic mortgages sold to an unnamed third party last year and may need to repurchase more of the loans.

Laurentian said in December that it might have to buy back about $304-million in mortgages sold to an unnamed third-party purchaser after an audit found "documentation issues and client misrepresentations."

In January, it said it had so far repurchased $180-million of the problem mortgages and might have to buy back mortgages worth $392-million in total.

Laurentian said on Wednesday that if its review of the 1,900 mortgages sold uncovers more loans that did not conform to the requirements of the sale it will either fix the mortgages or repurchase them. The bank said it expected the review to be completed by the end of the second quarter.

Laurentian also said that the Canada Mortgage and Corporation (CMHC), Canada's federal housing agency, had agreed the bank did not need to perform a full review of mortgages sold to CMHC's securitization programs or make further large-scale repurchases.

Laurentian said in January it had repurchased $88-million of loans that were incorrectly sold to CMHC securitization programs.

Laurentian Bank also reported net income of $59.7-million or $1.41 diluted per share for the first quarter of 2018, compared with net income of $48.5-million or $1.30 diluted per share for the same period last year. Analysts were expecting earnings of $1.47.

Total revenue increased by $25.4-million or 10 per cent to $267-million for the first quarter, compared to expectations of $272.5-million and from $241.6-million for the first quarter of 2017, "mainly driven by growth in net interest income stemming from strong volume growth in the commercial loan portfolio, in part from acquisitions," the company said.

--Canadian Press and Brenda Bouw


Torstar Corp. (TS.B-T) reported a net loss from continuing operations of $7.8-million or 10 cents per share in the fourth quarter, compared to net income of $700,000 or a penny per share in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Segmented revenue was $189.5-million, down from $208.7-million in the fourth quarter of 2016.


Exfo Inc. (EXFO-Q; EXF-T) says it has acquired a majority stake in Astellia, a similar company based in France.

Exfo has acquired 97.44 per cent of the capital and at least 95.07 per cent of Astellia's voting rights for $40.4-million. Astellia works in the field of mobile network performance analysis solutions and subscriber experience.

Based in Rennes, France, Astellia reported sales of about $60-million in 2017 and has more than 120 customers worldwide.

"By joining our strengths and technologies, we are creating unique capabilities to help operators keep pace with a quickly changing industry and ever-increasing consumer expectations," said Exfo founder and executive chairman Germain Lamonde.

The announcement was made Wednesday at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

​--The Canadian Press​


Cipher Pharmaceuticals Inc. (CPH-T) says revenue increased by 90 per cent to US$12.2-million in the fourth quarter from US$6.4-million a year earlier.

Income from continuing operations was US$3.9-million or 14 cents per share compared with loss from continuing operations of less than US$100,000 or nil per share, the company said.

Cipher also said it has acquired the exclusive Canadian rights to develop, market, distribute and sell Trulance from Synergy Pharmaceuticals Inc. (SGYP-Q).


VersaBank (VB-T) reported net income of $4-million for its first quarter, compared to $11.9-million for the same period last year, which it said reflected $8.8-million in deferred income tax assets in January, 2017.

Earnings came in at 16 cents versus 56 cents a year ago. Revenues in the quarter ended Jan. 31 were $12.4-million versus $11.4-million a year ago.


Maricann Group Inc. (MARI-CN) says underwriters of a previously announced $70-million bought deal offering are backing out of the agreement. "The company has not received an official notice of termination," it stated in a release.

The company also announced the resignations of Raymond Stone and Neil Tabatznik as directors and the appointment of Paul Pathak as interim chairman of the board.

It also announced that the Ontario Securities Commission is conducting a review of the "timing and reporting of certain trades in securities of the company," owned directly or indirectly by Messrs. Stone and Tabatznik and Eric Silver "or their respective associates and affiliates  ... that were effected prior to the announcement of the offering."  This was reported by The Globe and Mail on Tuesday.

The company also confirmed its CEO Ben Ward is the subject of an investigation into his activities while he was CEO of Canadian Cannabis Corp. "The company is unaware of any facts that could reasonably lead it to conclude that this investigation has had, or will have, any impact on the ability of Mr. Ward to properly and effectively carry out his duties as CEO or director of the company."

The Maricann board has also set up a special committee of independent directors to review the trades in question and the OSC investigation involving Mr. Ward "and any related matters and to make recommendations to the board on appropriate steps to be taken in response."


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