Skip to main content
business briefing

These are stories Report on Business is following Monday, Nov. 24, 2014.

Follow Michael Babad and The Globe's Business Briefing on Twitter.

'Just make it stop'
I've been called at home, at work, and on my BlackBerry.

I've answered some calls, but they still worm their way into my voicemail.

And just a few days ago, I overheard one of my colleagues wondering aloud whether he should answer his ringing line or let it go in case it was that damn fake WestJet call again.

At this point I feel like maybe I should give these creeps money just to shut them up.

I'm talking, of course, about the scam related to WestJet Airlines Ltd. And if you haven't got the call yet, where have you been? It's the most widespread scam I can remember. And some people may not know it's a scam because they hang up immediately.

It's driving WestJet nuts, too. And even the Better Business Bureau is warning about falling victim to the scam, which tells you how valued you are as a customer, and how you've won a prize, all of which is aimed at getting personal information from you.

WestJet, which stresses it does not solicit by phone, hit the nail on the head with this in a recent blog post: "Raise your hand if you've had a call from an automated voice telling you that you've won something from WestJet. Yeah, me too."

WestJet wants the public's help in trying to stop the people behind it, who are believed to be based in Mexico.

"Just make it stop! We've heard this request from many of you and we wish we could," WestJet says in its blog.

"We really, really do. My boss (VP of communications and community relations Richard Bartrem) doesn't get rattled by much but he's losing his mind over this one."

WestJet says it's working with authorities in Mexico, has complained to the RCMP's anti-fraud unit repeatedly, has spoken to the folks that host the scammers' websites, and has even engaged these people on the phone "at length."

By the way, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's do-not-call list is now five years old, and more than 12-million numbers are registered.

Someone should tell the Mexicans.

CMHC sees modest overvaluation
Canada's housing market is "modestly" overvalued, but there is no serious problem at the moment, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says in a new report.

The risk of overvaluation is most evident in Montreal and Quebec City, the report says, although the trends are improving, even in those cities, The Globe and Mail's Richard Blackwell reports. There is also a modest risk of homes becoming overvalued in Toronto, Calgary and Halifax, the study says.

Today's comments are from CMHC's latest House Price Analysis and Assessment, a regular internal study that has not been made public in the past. CMHC released some of the details of its HPAA as part of a move to issue more data about the state of the country's housing market.

A big week
There's not only a widely-watched OPEC meeting this week, there's also Black Friday and the kickoff to the holiday shopping season.

First up is OPEC, which meets in Vienna on Thursday. And at this point, it's anyone's guess as to whether the oil-producing nations will actually cut quotas to bolster the price of crude after the plunge.

"Sources suggest Iran will try to convince Saudi Arabia to cut oil output while Russia had talks with Saudi Arabia of which the result was an agreement on oil prices being 'market-orientated,'" said analyst Jasper Lawler of CMC Markets in London, adding Venezuela is willing to go along with a production cut.

"Saudi Arabia, the lead oil producer in OPEC, has strong ties with the U.S.A.; it seems likely that the two nations would have been communicating and discussing pricing and output levels as the U.S. started to increase its own production," he added.

"If the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have kept lines of communication open since the U.S. increased production, an agreement to cut seems unlikely by OPEC on Thursday. Even if Saudi Arabia did feel like prices had dropped too far, the market dynamic has changed; OPEC does not control as much as the world oil supply as it once did. Should prices still fall after OPEC make a cut, the cartel's power would be dramatically undermined."

Thursday is also American Thanksgiving, which means, of course, that Black Friday and Cyber Monday follow.

But, as The Globe and Mail's John Heinzl writes, everyone got a head start on that, anyway.

Behind the curve
Canada's resource companies look like an old boys club, based on our findings.

Or, as The Globe and Mail's Janet McFarland writes in our 13th annual Board Games special report, there are two solitudes where boards of directors are concerned.

There's the resource sector and everyone else.

Women, Ms. McFarland reports, account for only 7.8 per cent of the seats on the board of Canadian energy companies, and just 11 per cent in the mining and forestry sector.

In many other industries, it's between 20 per cent and 25 per cent.

Symantec warns of 'Regin'
A sophisticated cyber-espionage and data-gathering operation using the most advanced software has been systematically attacking a range of international targets that include business, government and private individuals, The Globe and Mail's Bertrand Marotte reports today.

Cyber security company Symantec says the malware – known as "Regin" – was likely developed by a "nation state" and has been operating since "at least" 2008.

The attacks are the latest in a series of increasingly complex and hard-to-detect data and intelligence breaches that range from credit-card information theft to the cracking of corporate and government secrets.

Onex in deals
Canada's Onex Corp. is spending big for a Swiss juice packaging company.

Onex said today it struck a deal to acquire SIG Combibloc Group AG for up to €3.8-billion, or $4.7-billion (U.S.).

SIG is the world's second-biggest such packager, with 5,200 employees and seven plants.

Onex also made an investment in Advanced Integration Technology.

Streetwise (for subscribers)

ROB Insight (for subscribers)

Business ticker

Report an error

Editorial code of conduct

Tickers mentioned in this story