Good morning once again! It’s Shari Kulha, back after a couple of days of R&R. I’m right back into the thick of it — as is John Chen, the Blackberry CEO who just got a $128-million stock carrot to stay on for another five years, on top of his annual $1M salary and $2M bonus. (I’m staying on here, too, but at no extra charge.)
The number of banking-related complaints cases rose to 370 in 2017, the highest it’s been in five years, says the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments. As Geoff Zochodne reports, OBSI said in its annual report that it had 5,477 inquiries and opened 721 investigations in 2017, increases of 8% and 13%, respectively, over 2016. Banks in particular saw a 28% hike in complaints. As for services and products, OBSI said 30% of all banking cases were related to credit cards, followed by mortgages at 18% and issues with personal accounts at 16%.
B.C. & NAFTA
Were NAFTA to implode, Moody’s has said, Ontario and New Brunswick would be hardest hit, while B.C. would be least impacted. Moody’s assessed the relative size of provincial exports to the U.S. as a share of GDP, Jesse Snyder reports, as well as the type of industries most dominant in each province. Exports to the U.S. by New Brunswick account for 28.5% of its total GDP, the highest in the country. Ontario was next highest at 26%. B.C.’s export exposure sits at about 8% of its GDP.
Canadian oil and gas stocks are so cheap that top-notch companies are better off buying back their own shares than drilling new wells. Geoffrey Morgan reports that Canadian Natural Resources is the latest in a string of domestic oil companies planning for a share buyback, in this case to repurchase 5% of its float. Since the middle of 2017, fund managers have been urging these companies to put their free cash into share buybacks rather than growth, given the disconnect between the value of the producers and the product they pump out of the earth.
Bitcoin comes to real estate. One condo owner in Mississauga, Ont. put his two-bedroom unit up for sale, for the price of 35 Bitcoin. As Naomi Powell describes, no paper money was to cross the threshold. However, the buyer wasn’t up on his cryptocurrencies and offered the equivalent value, in 445,000 old-school dollars. To-ing and fro-ing ensued between banks, and the deal was done. The seller plans to list two more properties, and will again have his agent update Bitcoin’s value on the listing every day.
Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes has agreed to a US$500,000 fine and to surrender 19 million shares. Holmes raised US$700 million from investors, promising her medical-testing startup would change medicine with a single drop of blood. On Wednesday, the SEC called her a fraud and forced her to give up the company she built, saying she and her chief deputy lied for years about their technology. No word on whether there will be criminal charges. The SEC said: “Innovators who seek to revolutionize and disrupt an industry must tell investors the truth about what their technology can do today, not just what they hope it might do someday.”