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Streetwise newsletter: Banking complaints rise 28 per cent; Element shares tumble as company regroups

A Bay Street sign is seen in Toronto’s financial district.

Mark Blinch/The Globe and Mail

Here are the top reads,

Complaints: Banking-related complaints handled by an industry ombudsman rose 28 per cent in 2017, reaching the highest level in five years as disputes over credit cards nearly doubled. Story (James Bradshaw)

Stock collapse: Shares of Element Fleet Management Corp. plummeted for the second time in five weeks as the struggling Bay Street finance company said it will take a restructuring charge, cut staff and close offices as part of a recovery plan that will take the rest of 2018 to implement. Story (Jacqueline Nelson, for subscribers)

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Tech financing: Hootsuite Media Inc. has signed a credit financing agreement for up to US$50-million with CIBC Innovation Banking, money that the Vancouver technology firm plans to use mostly for acquisitions. Story (David Ebner and James Bradshaw, for subscribers)

Pot sector: Beleaguered medical marijuana company Maricann Group Inc. says "none of the statements" made by its chief executive officer, Ben Ward, in a recent controversial interview should be relied upon by investors. Story (Niall McGee, for subscribers)

Cryptocurrencies: Bank of Montreal has shut down the use of its credit cards to buy cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, joining Toronto-Dominion Bank, which made a similar announcement last month. Story (Alexandra Posadzki)

Financial products: Investment manager Invesco Ltd. will be putting an end to popular key investment brands Trimark and PowerShares in an effort to build a stronger single global brand that will be more easy to identify among investors. Story (Clare O'Hara)

FINANCIAL SERVICES WRAP

Fintech: The Bank of Montreal is taking a first step towards artificial-intelligence powered customer service by launching chatbots that can field questions via Facebook Messenger and Twitter. Story

Compensation: Citigroup chief executive Michael Corbat's annual pay for 2017 was 369 times the median annual pay of all employees, the bank said in a regulatory filing. Story

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Court: A Canadian court has awarded plaintiffs $2.63-billion in a civil case against Sino Forest Corp co-founder and CEO Allen Chan, a decision that's certain to lead to more litigation over one of the biggest cases of securities fraud by a listed Chinese firm. Story

DEAL WRAP

Canadian ops on the block: Toys "R" Us is in talks to sell its entire Canadian business as it works to shutter its 70-year-old U.S. operations, but analysts are skeptical about the future of the brick-and-mortar toy retailer's existing business model. Story

Publications on the block: U.S. media company Meredith Corp. has hired advisers to explore a sale of its Time, Fortune, Money and Sports Illustrated magazines following its US$1.84-billion acquisition of Time Inc. in January, people familiar with the matter said. Story

Media sector: The trial to determine whether AT&T Inc.'s purchase of Time Warner Inc. is legal under U.S. antitrust law will be delayed two days because of scheduling issues, a person familiar with the situation said on Thursday. Story

Entertainment sector: Quebecor Media has chosen to not exercise its right of first refusal in the sale of Just For Laughs, the comedy company said Thursday. Story

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Competition review: Bayer AG's plan to win antitrust approval for its takeover of Monsanto Co. hasn't satisfied U.S. officials who are worried the merger could hurt competition, according to two people familiar with the matter. Story

Financing: Merchant Advance Capital, which offers online lending to small and medium-sized businesses, has closed a $30 million debt facility from Comvest Credit Partners, which provides financing solutions to middle-market companies. BetaKit

Venture capital: A fledgling augmented reality (AR) startup, London-based Blue Vision Labs, launched out of stealth today backed by US$17 million in funding from some big names in the venture capital (VC) world. VentureBeat

WHAT WE'RE READING ELSEWHERE

Profile: Whitney Rockley is that rare individual in Canada's venture market: a female investment pro of more than two decades experience, 16 of those years spent in senior roles in VC firms on both sides of the Atlantic. She also happens to be the first woman chair of the Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association. PE Hub

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