Hello, everyone. Shari Kulha here with your morning briefing, and a snippet of business trivia: The Canadian Bank of Commerce was founded on this day in 1867. Among others, it merged with the Bank of British Columbia in 1901, the Halifax Banking Co. in 1903, the Bank of Hamilton in 1924, and when it finally merged in 1961 with the Imperial Bank of Canada, it became the CIBC.
Canada has earned a “precarious” C grade in innovation from the Conference Board, which ranked it 12th out of 16 countries — but at least it was up from its previous D. The report ranks public spending levels, R&D, access to capital and other metrics, Jesse Snyder writes. “Persistent weaknesses and lagging investment” by private businesses, and low patenting activity were mentioned as a drag. But there was one area in which Canada excelled.
Aurora Cannabis will acquire MedReleaf in the largest cannabis deal yet. It plans to take over MedReleaf in a $3.2B, all-stock deal set to close in August. As Mark Rendell reports, the second- and fourth-largest Canadian marijuana companies by market cap ($7.02B) will combined create a potential rival to industry leader Canopy Growth ($6.45B). MedReleaf shareholders will control roughly 39% of the new company.
FROM BMO TO BMA?
Bank of Montreal is emerging as the most aggressive of Canada’s big banks in the cannabis industry, having advised Aurora Cannabis in the sector’s biggest deal yet (see above). Cannabis is one of the few bright spots for equity financing in Canada, which is down about 60% from a year ago. The industry is valued at about $31 billion and is rapidly consolidating.
A looming housing affordability crisis is poised to hit seniors across Canada, according to a DBRS report. Within seven years, Naomi Powell reports, the national average for seniors’-home rents could reach $4,000 a month. The issue is that the rate of increase into the seniors demographic is projected to more than double the growth of appropriate new housing.
The Kents bought their Vancouver bungalow in 1972 for $40,000. Now it’s assessed at $4 million and, facing a tax hike, may have to leave their family home. They live only on CPP and OAS. The school tax increase in the B.C. budget caused such uproar that a town hall meeting was cancelled over security concerns. There didn’t seem to be much sympathy for people in their position: “We’re talking about very wealthy households, whether they got there through income or the increase in their home prices,” the head of the B.C. Real Estate Association said.