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Banks’ CEOs speak up for free-trade pact

Surging house prices in the Toronto area are "not sustainable and not healthy," a key executive at Bank of Nova Scotia says – but governments should wait out the busy spring buying season before stepping in.

James O'Sullivan, the head of Canadian banking at Scotiabank, said Toronto is clearly the housing market "we should collectively be most concerned about," and that the country's third-largest lender would prefer to see "action sooner rather than later."

He stopped short of prescribing any specific fix for rising house prices that risk putting home ownership out of reach for many Canadians. But he said that if the spring season of April, May and June – when the greatest volume of homes change hands – fails to show concrete signs of a cooling market, Scotiabank supports government intervention. Story

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Deadline nears for Savanna shareholders to make decision on Total Energy's bid


Total Energy Services Inc.'s $225-million hostile takeover of Savanna Energy Services Corp. appeared near-assured last month, but shareholders are facing another prompt to make a choice this week as the Total offer winds down.

Total Energy is offering 0.13 of one of its shares, plus 20 cents in cash, for each Savanna share, and has more than 50 per cent of Savanna shares sewn up. But the goal is 100-per-cent share ownership and privatization of Savanna – which has struggled alongside other oil field services firms with the crude price drop and the resulting plunge in activity.

Late last month, it became clear Total Energy had beaten out a friendly and potentially richer stock swap deal from Western Energy Services Corp.

Savanna had fought Total Energy's hostile bid from the moment it first surfaced late last year but is now expressing a different tone. Story


DAILY DEALS


Staples Inc. is in talks with private equity firms about a potential sale, sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday, as the largest U.S. office-supplies seller tests buyer appetite for an industry rattled by online competition and hefty debt burdens. Story

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ELSEWHERE IN FINANCE:


Credit Suisse tax inquiry puts spotlight on private bank model Story (NYT)


JPMorgan's Dimon calls for regulatory reform in shareholder letter Story (Reuters)


Why Contrarians Won't Clean Up in Bed Bath & Beyond Story (WSJ, subscription required)


Panera Bread Co. is one expensive takeover target. Is it worth the dough? Story (Bloomberg Gadfly)

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