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Bank of Nova Scotia's latest restructuring efforts have spread to its wealth management arm, with major changes to the ScotiaMcLeod retail adviser network announced this week.

In mid-April, the bank announced a review that "advances strategic measures to further position the bank for long-term success," citing "significant ongoing shifts in consumer behaviours, particularly digital banking adoption."

Rival Big Six banks face similar threats and have been cutting costs as Canadians increasingly opt for digital banking.

This week, Scotiabank's wealth management unit was also targeted by the review, with at least 7 per cent of ScotiaMcLeod's brokers let go, as well as their assistants, according to people familiar with the decision. Scotiabank would not confirm the exact number affected.

The nature of the job losses represents a shift in the lender's long-term wealth management strategy.

When cost control is a top priority, there is little surprise when underperforming staff are dismissed. But the latest cuts targeted brokers who brought in as much as $650,000 in annual fee-based revenue, a source said, including those with assets under management ranging from $75-million to $100-million – a level that previously allowed advisers to qualify for bonuses.

Now, the bank seems focused on serving the wealthiest clients and employing brokers with megabooks of business – the most assets under management – a burgeoning trend across the industry. Story

What Bouchard can learn from Watsa

Convenience store king Alain Bouchard might still be nursing his wounds – but that shouldn't stop him from getting back in the ring.

The executive chairman of Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. never thought his investors would reject a proposal to extend his control of the company past 2021. When they did, it left him stunned and mostly silent. Until this month, when he warned that the company could meet an undesirable fate.

It's a situation that should feel familiar to investors in Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., which last year led a months-long back-and-forth campaign to secure voting control for founder and chief executive officer Prem Watsa. After twice delaying a vote on the issue, Mr. Watsa eventually won support from subordinate shareholders to lock in his 41.8-per-cent voting control. But the victory came with several concessions.

"[I think Mr. Watsa] understands this type of situation better than me. He was more patient than I am," Mr. Bouchard said in an interview. Story

Adapting to tax-inversion restrictions

Foreknowledge, it appears, has blunted the M&A impact of anti-inversion regulations released earlier this month by the U.S. Treasury Department.

There's no question that deal flow has slowed since the Treasury first announced its concern about 18 months ago. Still, it's important to understand that the new regulations don't prohibit or prevent inversion transactions.

"The IRS has maximized the effectiveness of the tools available to them, but there are limits on what they can do," says Paul Seraganian in the New York office of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. Story


DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg is expected to leave the company if Comcast Corp. acquires the studio, the Wall Street Journal reported. Story

First Cash Financial Services Inc. is in advanced talks to merge with Cash America International Inc., Bloomberg reported. Story

A unit of China's HNA Group Co. is buying Carlson Hotels Inc., wich owns brands including Radisson and Park Plaza. Story

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