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A roundup of some of the North American equities making moves in both directions today

On the rise

Aimia Inc. (AIM-T) was higher on news it has signed a deal to swap its 20-per-cent stake in AirAsia’s loyalty company Biglife for $31.2-million worth of shares of AirAsia.

Under the deal, Aimia will receive 85.86 million AirAsia shares, representing a 2.2 per cent stake in the company in exchange for its stake in the airline’s loyalty program.

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Aimia says that combined with AirAsia shares it already owns that it will own a 3.1-per-cent stake once the deal is complete.

Aimia CEO Phil Mittleman says by swapping its stake in Biglife for AirAsia shares the company can benefit from what it believes is significant upside in the shares, with the added benefit of liquidity.

The Biglife deal is subject to AirAsia’s shareholders’ approval which is expected to occur before the end of May.

Aimia has transformed itself into a holding company since selling its flagship Aeroplan program back to Air Canada in 2019.

Toronto-based Enthusiast Gaming Holdings Inc. (EGLX-T) finished higher after announcing an integrated partnership deal with TikTok.

According to Enthusiast, it will “vast platform of video game and esports fan communities to help drive adoption and bridge the integration of TikTok within the gaming and esports industry.”

See also: Power-up mode: Enthusiast Gaming is racing ahead of e-sports rivals, but can it make money?

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PlayStation politics: How 2020 – and a Canadian company – ushered in the era of campaign gaming

AstraZeneca PLC (AZN-Q) rose after announcing its COVID-19 vaccine performed better than expected in a major late-stage trial potentially paving the way for its emergency authorization in the United States and bolstering confidence in the shot after numerous setbacks in Europe.

The drugmaker said on Monday that trials in Chile, Peru and the United States found the vaccine, developed in conjunction with Oxford University, was 79 per cent effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and, crucially, posed no increased risk of blood clots. It intends to request U.S. emergency authorization in coming weeks.

More than a dozen European countries, including Germany and France, had halted use of the AstraZeneca vaccine earlier this month after some reports linked it to blood clots in a very small number of people. They have since resumed inoculation after a regional regulator said it was safe, but an opinion poll on Monday showed Europeans remained skeptical over its safety.

Hailed as a milestone in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic when it first emerged as a vaccine contender last year, the AstraZeneca shot has since been dogged by confusion over its efficacy, dosing regimen and possible side-effects as well as supply setbacks in Europe, where the company has been at the center of a growing conflict between Brussels and London over so-called ‘vaccine nationalism’.

The latest data should help address some of those concerns, analysts said. Based on more than 32,000 people, the trial was larger and elderly volunteers featured more prominently than in previous trial results from the UK which had prompted some European countries to initially hold back using the AstraZeneca shot on older people.

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See also: Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine campaign set to kick into high gear with supply surge expected

Tesla Inc. (TSLA-Q) jumped after Cathie Wood’s Ark Invest sets a bullish US$3,000 price target by 2025

The vehicle maker’s market cap could reach as high as US$4-trillion in the best-case scenario, according to Ark’s research note published late Friday.

The investment management firm set the price target for Tesla at US$1,500 per share on a bear basis by 2025 and US$4,000 per share on a bull basis.

Last year, Ark Invest said it expected the company’s stock to hit US$7,000 per share, or US$1,400 when adjusted for its five-for-one stock split, by 2024.

Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. (ATD.B-T) reversed early losses and turned higher after announcing it has signed a deal to sell 49 stores in Oklahoma to Casey’s General Stores Inc. (CASY-Q) for $39-million.

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The deal includes 46 leased and three owned properties and is expected to close by July 31.

The convenience store company also says it has hired a real estate advisory firm to help with the sale of 306 other sites across North America following a strategic review.

The stores up for sale include 269 locations across 25 states in the United States and 37 sites across six provinces in Canada.

Couche-Tard CEO Brian Hannasch says the plan to sell the stores follows a review that began last fall.

See also: Couche-Tard misses revenue estimates on fuel demand slump

U.S. private equity giant Blackstone Group LP (BX-N) was up on news of its conditional buyout proposal for troubled Australian casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd.

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The indicative proposal comes as casinos and gaming operators around the world have seen values plunge as coronavirus lockdowns battered earnings, putting them on the radar of cashed-up investment firms.

Crown has suffered more than most after a year-long regulatory inquiry aired allegations of money laundering and governance failures at the company, leading to the loss of its gambling licence for its new A$2.2 billion Sydney casino last month.

Since then, top executives including its chief executive resigned, paving the way for Crown to repair its reputation and regain its licence with ex-federal communications minister and Chairman Helen Coonan at the helm of the overhaul.

Crown said Blackstone’s proposal was A$11.85 per share, a premium of 20.2% to the company’s last closing price, and valuing it at A$8.02 billion (US$6.2-billion).

Apollo Global Management Inc. (APO-N) gained after it appointed Jay Clayton, former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission chief, as non-executive chairman after Founder Leon Black said he would step down from the post to focus on his family, health, and other interests.

Mr. Black had planned to retain the role of chairman after he agreed to step down from the post of chief executive officer (CEO) in January, following an independent review of his ties to the late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

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“In the last few months, not only did we announce a transformative merger with Athene, but also expect to report that our first quarter earnings will exceed analyst consensus in all relevant measures,” Mr. Black said in a statement on Monday.

“I thus view this as the ideal moment to step back and focus on my family, my wife Debra’s and my health issues, and my many other interests,” he added.

On the decline

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (CP-T) fell after announcing it will pay US$25.2-billion in stock and cash to take over Kansas City Southern (KSU-N) railway in a deal that will widen the reach of the Calgary-based rail carrier deep into the United States and Mexico.

The deal announced on Sunday requires approval of the U.S. Surface Transportation Board and shareholders of both railways. It has the support of both railways’ boards.

The new railway will be called CPKC and be headquartered in Calgary, said Keith Creel, CP’s chief executive officer, in an interview on Sunday.

CP is Canada’s second-largest railway, behind Canadian National Railway Co. Its network runs to Saint John from Vancouver, but reaches no farther south in the United States than Kansas City, Mo. The deal would allow CP to link in that hub with KCS and extend south to New Orleans on the Gulf Coast, and beyond Mexico City to the Pacific Coast. More than half of KCS’s operations are in Mexico.

- Eric Atkins

See also: Monday’s analyst upgrades and downgrades

CP Rail’s CEO unveils new tactics to win U.S. takeover battle

With files from staff and wires

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