Breakingviews

RBC’s foray south a pricey bet that two’s a charm

January 22, 2015

The Canadian bank is paying $5.4 bln for U.S. lender City National, a 26 pct premium that planned cost cuts don’t justify. The so-called banker to Hollywood stars is growing well. But RBC’s last venture into American retail banking was a mess. It needs to prove it can do better.

Cheap oil lubricates Li Ka-shing’s corporate rejig

January 12, 2015

Asia’s richest man is shifting a 6 pct stake in Canada’s Husky Energy to his holding company as part of a broader shake-up. The move is vital to keeping Li’s grip on the telco-to-property empire. Though shareholders may object, the falling oil price has worked in their favour.

Private equity shows signs of pre-crisis brio

November 25, 2014

Canada’s Onex has bought Swiss packager SIG for up to $4.7 bln in a secondary buyout. It’s one of Europe’s biggest LBOs in five years and deploys pre-crisis levels of leverage. Private equity restlessness and a shortage of big targets created the conditions for a landmark deal.

Activist row bigger than Keystone for TransCanada

November 19, 2014

A sparring match with a dissident investor may be more important than the fate of the $35 bln Canadian group’s tar sands pipeline. Bay Street has welcomed activists, and the regulatory environment is favorable. But for now, TransCanada appears to have shareholders on its side.

Bankers get painful and needed conflicts reminder

October 13, 2014

A $76 mln penalty against RBC for working both sides of a deal is the latest blow to skewed loyalties. Even with recent slaps at Goldman and Barclays, it isn’t clear the message is reaching Wall Street. Delaware courts seem up to the task of delivering it as loudly as it takes.

Sears’ Canada stake sale merits a discount

October 3, 2014

Hedge fund boss Eddie Lampert’s struggling retailer wants to raise cash ahead of the holidays by selling a stake in its Canadian arm via a slimly discounted rights issue. If all goes to plan, Sears hopes to conjure up $380 mln. The market’s reaction suggests that’s optimistic.

Buffett and tax outrage both diversions in BK deal

August 26, 2014

The Sage of Omaha is lending Burger King money, at a lucrative 9 percent, but his imprint tells stock investors nothing. And contrary to social media hysteria, a new parent company in Canada isn’t going to fleece the U.S. taxman. The $11 bln purchase of Tim Hortons is just an LBO.

Burger King tax flip merger logic doesn’t stack up

August 26, 2014

The $9.6 bln burger chain’s investors cheered its talks to buy Canadian doughnut shop Tim Hortons and move its headquarters across the border. There’s little obvious tax arbitrage, and Burger King isn’t larded with foreign cash. Inversion alone can’t justify the market’s appetite.

Why can Burger King, but not Wendy’s, own Hortons?

August 26, 2014

In 2005, Bill Ackman, now BK’s No. 2 shareholder, pressured rival Wendy’s to spin off the Canadian doughnut chain - arguing it was undervalued, the synergies “minimal” and management insufficiently incentivized. Funny how a robust dose of financial engineering changes minds.

Cross-border arbitrage is expansive Bimbo’s yeast

February 12, 2014

The acquisitive Mexican breadmaker Grupo Bimbo is paying $1.8 bln to buy Canada Bread. Paying 20 times earnings to move into a mature market may seem questionable. But Bimbo’s earnings fetch an even higher multiple at home – and the deal should lower its average cost of capital.