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Sprott hostile bid raises eyebrows over governance of dual-share firms

Money manager Sprott Inc. is attempting the corporate finance equivalent of a Hail Mary pass in its $3.1-billion (U.S.) hostile bid of rival Central Fund of Canada Ltd.

The takeover is likely to fall short, according to lawyers watching this contest, but if Sprott does win out, it would change the landscape for the long list of Canadian companies that feature dual classes of shares.

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Sprott and Central Fund (CFCL) both run portfolios that invest in gold and silver bullion. Last week, Sprott launched a bid for Calgary-based CFCL that asks an Alberta court to give owners of non-voting shares in the target company the right to vote on its offer. Story

Caisse, KKR eye growth for insurance brokerage business as Onex cashes out

The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec is taking the long view in its latest deal to buy an acquisitive insurance-brokerage business from private equity backer Onex Corp.

The Quebec-based pension fund and private equity firm KKR & Co. said Friday that they would jointly acquire USI Insurance Services in a deal valued at $4.3-billion (U.S.), including debt. Some USI employees will also retain a stake in the company, which is among the largest property- and casualty-insurance brokerages in the United States and is focused on small and medium-sized businesses. Story

Canada Goose shares soar in IPO on Toronto, New York markets

hares of parka maker Canada Goose Holdings Inc. rose in their debut on Thursday in Canada and the United States, creating a steep valuation fuelled by investor hype on both sides of the border.

The stock soared 27 per cent to $21.53 in Toronto, closing 10 per cent, or $2.45, lower from its high. The retailer had priced the 20 million shares that were sold in its initial public offering at $17 apiece, above its expected $14 to $16 range. It is also listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Story

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Painted Pony to buy IPO candidate Unconventional Gas

A Montney natural-gas producer tipped as a potential candidate for an initial public offering has agreed to sell itself instead.

Calgary-based Unconventional Gas Resources (UGR), backed by private-equity firms ARC Financial Corp. and Houston-based EnCap Investments LP, was among several producers in the British Columbia exploration zone said to be on track for a public stock sale.

Instead, it is being acquired by Painted Pony Petroleum Ltd. for $229.6-million in shares, plus the assumption of $47-million in UGR debt. Story

Valeant shows the dangers of checking into hedge-fund hotels

Trading desks have a name for stocks like Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc: They call them hedge-fund hotels. And to mangle a line from the Eagles, at a hedge-fund hotel, you can check out any time you like, but it sure hurts to leave.

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In good times, go-go stocks such as the Laval-based drug company attract an evangelical following from the hot-money crowd, with the likes of Bill Ackman at Pershing Square Capital Management using every opportunity to preach the gospel according to Valeant.

In bad times, when Mr. Ackman loses faith and takes a $4-billion hit on his misadventure, long-suffering Valeant shareholders get another kick in the teeth. Story

Amid falling oil prices, two energy service firms take different approaches to IPOs

Two Canadian energy service firms mulling initial public offerings are taking different approaches amid falling oil prices, with one forging ahead with its plans to make a public debut while the other is slamming on the brakes.

Source Energy Services Ltd., a TriWest Capital Partners company which produces sand used for hydraulic fracturing, is proceeding with marketing its stock sale and has plans to price its shares within the next week, according to one source familiar with the matter. The Calgary-based company said earlier this month that it aims to raise $300-million. Story

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