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Securities regulators make a 'huge step forward'

Canadian securities regulators could get expanded powers to investigate wrongdoing across international borders under proposed changes to the co-operation agreement that governs global securities commissions.

The International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) has drafted reform recommendations that would allow members to work with their counterpart regulators in other countries to gather phone records and internet search records needed in a securities investigation, and even compel people in other countries to attend hearings and provide testimony for a foreign regulator, said Ontario Securities Commission chair Maureen Jensen.

Ms. Jensen said IOSCO is moving beyond its role as an organization whose members share information to spur members to be more active participants in other jurisdictions' investigations. The trend comes as regulators increasingly reach across borders to investigate complex, international crimes such as stock frauds.

"I think this is a huge step forward," Ms. Jensen said in an interview. "One of the key drivers is that everything is global. In the financial markets, there is no such thing as a local market." FULL STORY

Quebecor to hold Say on Pay vote

Quebecor Inc. is taking not one, but two steps forward in corporate governance matters this spring: Michel Lavigne, whose presence on the Quebecor board irked governance advocates and a number of shareholders, has decided not to stand for re-election. And Quebecor also says it will conduct its first-ever say-on-pay vote at its May 12 shareholders' meeting.

The latter decision, however, may be seen as a way to ensure Quebecor never finds itself facing the former situation again.

Mr. Lavigne failed to get majority approval from Quebecor's Class B shareholders in both the 2014 and 2015 votes. In 2015, per Quebecor's newly introduced majority voting policy, Mr. Lavigne submitted his resignation after 72 per cent of shareholders withheld their support for him. The Quebecor board, however, rejected his resignation and he continued to serve.

Mr. Lavigne, a former chief executive officer of Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, chairs Quebecor's human resources and compensation committee. His low support is widely believed to be due to Quebecor's 2014 decision to pay former chief executive officer Robert Dépatie $7.8-million in severance after less than a year on the job.

In May, 2015, Quebecor chairman Brian Mulroney said the board rejected Mr. Lavigne's resignation because it "seems totally inappropriate and unjust … that Mr. Lavigne should alone face an abstention vote when [Mr. Dépatie's severance] was a unanimous decision of the board of directors and has no possible link to the 2015 meeting."

Quebecor spokesman Martin Tremblay says Mr. Lavigne "has informed the board that he would not stand for re-election. So it is his own decision." STORY

Scotiabank CEO urges innovation

Bank of Nova Scotia's chief executive officer argued that the private sector must drive greater innovation in the economy if Canada wants to close the productivity gap with global peers.

"While governments can create the conditions for innovation to thrive, Canadian companies need to step up to be the primary drivers," Brian Porter said at the bank's shareholder meeting in Calgary.

He pointed to Scotiabank as an example, noting that it has recently doubled its investment in technology to more than $2.4-billion, as the bank responds to nimble financial technology firms, or fintech, and a decreasing demand for traditional branch transactions as consumers increasingly do their banking on computers or smart phones.

By 2020, Mr. Porter said, the bank expects that less than 10 per cent of financial transactions will take place in its extensive branch network, while financial products sold through its digital channels will rise to more than 50 per cent of total products sold.

The bank has also been partnering with fintech firms, such as Sensibill Inc., a Toronto-based startup that offers customers an online receipts management tool. FULL STORY

DAILY DEALS

Royal Dutch Shell could sell some of its older, lower grade North Sea assets to improve the quality of its portfolio, CEO Ben van Beurden said on Tuesday, part of a two-year program to help finance its purchase of gas major BG Group. STORY

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. said on Tuesday it has agreed to buy a controlling stake in Southeast Asia online retailer Lazada Group for about $1-billion, its biggest deal overseas, as the Chinese e-commerce giant seeks fertile new turf while growth slows at home. STORY

ON THE MOVE

Scotia Capital Inc. has parted ways with long-time trader Sean Riley, according to sources. FULL STORY

WHAT WE'RE READING

Wall Street Journal: U.S. Banks start announcing earnings on Wednesday, and a big focus will be on little-known but massive unfunded loans. STORY

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