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New Investment Canada Act Review Threshold – C$1 Billion

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

On June 22, 2017, the pre-closing review threshold that applies to most direct acquisitions of Canadian businesses by non-Canadian1, non-state owned investors from WTO member states increased to C$1 billion from $C800 million2.  In an effort to encourage foreign investment that is beneficial to Canada, the Canadian Government increased this threshold to C$1 billion two years ahead of schedule3.… Continue Reading

Investment Canada Act Review Threshold Increases to C$800 Million

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

Today the pre-closing review threshold that applies to most direct acquisitions of Canadian businesses by non-Canadian[1], non-state owned investors from WTO member states has risen from C$600 million to C$800 million[2].   A further increase is set to occur later this year.   The Canadian government has announced that in 2017 (two years ahead of schedule) the Investment Canada Act will be amended to increase this threshold to C$1 billion.

The C$379 million (2017) pre-closing review threshold for direct acquisitions of Canadian businesses by non-Canadian, state-owned investors continues to apply[3]. Also continuing to apply is … Continue Reading

Ontario’s Bulk Sales Act has been repealed

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Strategy

On March 22, 2017, Ontario’s Bulk Sales Act (BSA) was repealed, bringing to an end bulk sales legislation in Canada.1 The BSA was enacted in 1917, and was intended to protect unpaid trade creditors (i.e. the people a seller is indebted to for goods, money or services furnished for the purpose of enabling the seller to carry on his or her business) from “bulk sales” by a seller of all or substantially all of its assets over a short period of time.

The BSA was an important consideration for both the buyer and the seller in an Ontario … Continue Reading

Corporate Democracy vs. Directors’ Powers: lessons from Marquee/Smoothwater

Posted in Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

Alberta’s Court of Appeal recently overturned a controversial interlocutory decision involving a proposed acquisition by Alberta Oil Sands Inc. (“AOS”) of Marquee Energy Ltd. (“Marquee”) pursuant to a plan of arrangement under s. 193 of Alberta’s Business Corporations Act (“ABCA”). Even though only Marquee was being arranged, thus necessitating a vote by its shareholders, the underlying decision of the Court of Queen’s Bench required that AOS also seek the approval of its shareholders to implement the transaction. The Court of Appeal set aside the lower Court’s order requiring AOS shareholders to vote on the … Continue Reading

Is the Death of Ontario’s Bulk Sales Act upon us? It looks like it may be.

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Strategy

On June 8, 2016 Bill 218 (the Burden Reduction Act, 2016) passed first reading. The Bill is part of a provincial government initiative to, in part, reduce the regulatory burden on Ontario businesses. Schedule 3 of the Bill repeals Ontario’s Bulk Sales Act (BSA). The BSA was enacted in 1917, and is intended to protect unpaid trade creditors (i.e. the people a seller is indebted to for goods, money or services furnished for the purpose of enabling the seller to carry on his or her business) from “bulk sales” by a seller of all or substantially all of its assets … Continue Reading

Thinking of Buying or Selling a Fintech Target? Due Diligence Issues Unique to Fintech M&A

Although many of the same considerations related to the acquisition or sale of any technology company apply, regulatory and compliance considerations are key in the fintech space.

Posted in Canadian Market Entry, Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

Fintech M&A activity, in both the Canadian market and globally, is expected to be on the rise over the next few years. In its 2016 Report, FinTech: Prepare for a Wave of M&A, UK-based investment bank FirstCapital, predicts that fintech M&A deal flow will increase “as financial incumbents look to catch up with widespread innovation from new entrants, the internet majors scale up in financial services and the technology/software majors add new technology to deepen their offerings in this sector”.

Like with the acquisition or sale of any technology company, strategic due diligence is a critical component of the … Continue Reading

Canada’s early warning rules get tougher in May

Canadian Securities Administrators adopt enhanced disclosure, retain 10% reporting threshold

Posted in Canadian Market Entry, Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

Along with the announcement on February 25, 2016 of final amendments to Canada’s take-over bid regime (see our February 26, 2016 publication, Canada’s New Take-Over Bid Rules Seek to Level the Playing Field, relating to that announcement), the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) published the text of final amendments to Canada’s Early Warning Regime (EWR), which will take effect on May 9, 2016.1

Background

The release of the amendments (EWR Amendments) brings to an end a three-year engagement by the CSA with market participants that began in March 2013 with an initial set of EWR proposals (see our March … Continue Reading

Canada’s New Take-Over Bid Rules Seek to Level the Playing Field

The Canadian Securities Administrators confirm the adoption of a harmonized Canadian take-over bid and issuer bid regime (including a 105 day minimum bid period), effective May 9, 2016

Posted in Canadian Market Entry, Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

On February 25, 2016, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) published a CSA Notice of Amendments to Take-Over Bid Regime confirming the adoption of a harmonized take-over bid and issuer bid regime for all Canadian jurisdictions (New Bid Regime),1 effective May 9, 2016.2

On February 25, 2016, the CSA also published a CSA Notice of Amendments to Early Warning System, which confirms the adoption of changes to Canada’s early warning reporting (EWR) system. These changes to the EWR system are to come into effect at the same time as the New Bid Regime and will be reflected in … Continue Reading

Rethinking Representation and Warranty Insurance in Canada

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Strategy

With special contribution from Robyn Weber, AVP, Private Equity Practice Leader, HUB International

The sale of Representation and Warranty Insurance (“RWI”) policies has soared in recent years. In the United States, between 2012 and 2014, the number of RWI policies issued has doubled every year. Yet Canada has not been as quick to adopt RWI in M&A transactions mainly due to our typically smaller transaction values, making RWI cost prohibitive in many instances.

However, the Canadian market is warming to RWI as the cost of this insurance product has decreased by approximately 50% over the past 5 years. With the … Continue Reading

Canadian Representation and Warranty Insurance FAQ

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Strategy

With special contribution from Robyn Weber, AVP, Private Equity Practice Leader, HUB International

In the context of the purchase and sale of a company, when sellers seek to negotiate a “clean exit” and limit exposure to indemnification claims and buyers seek to avoid unknown pre-closing risks, the question increasingly arises: can’t insurance cover these risks?

Canadian M&A participants have been slower than participants in other markets to regularly seek this type of insurance, known as Representation and Warranty Insurance (“RWI”). However, insurers have been quick to offer RWI products and interest is growing. The rationale for purchasing insurance can be … Continue Reading

Beyond Boxes: Books and Records in the (not so) New Digital Age

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Strategy

The recent attention surrounding cyber security is a reminder of how a company’s records are no longer stored in boxes filled with paper files. Although the (not so) new age of electronic data storage has resulted in new ways of doing business that were never before possible, it has also resulted in a host of complexities when considering how, and in some cases what, electronic records will be handed over to the buyer of a business in an M&A transaction. These complexities are compounded when a buyer is only purchasing a portion of a business, the rest of which will … Continue Reading

Canadian M&A Activity: Recent Insights & Trends – Part Two

Posted in Private Equity, Private Transactions

In the first part of this blog post series, we looked at recent general trends in the Canadian M&A market overall, including a decline in overall transaction activity since 2009.

However, when looking at M&A activity in certain sectors or by deal value, we see slightly different trends emerging:

  • The steepest decline in activity has been concentrated at the lowest end of the market (value under $5M), where we have seen a 64% decline in the number of transactions since 2009 or an annualized decline of 18% per year.
  • At the high end of the market (value over $250M), overall
Continue Reading

Canadian M&A Activity: Recent Insights & Trends – Part One

Posted in Private Equity, Private Transactions

Canadian M&A activity has been on a rollercoaster ride in recent years, influenced by market factors, currency fluctuations, oil prices and other economic conditions. In this two-part blog post series, we highlight some interesting trends that we have identified from our recent market review.

In spite of the apparent volatility in M&A activity in Canada, our review of market activity reveals that there have been some notable trends in recent years when looking at M&A deal activity overall.… Continue Reading

Harnessing Social Media in Proxy Contests: Opportunities and Legal Challenges

Posted in Private Equity, Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

Social media has very seldom been leveraged in Canadian proxy contests. One reason for this may be the lack of knowledge about its full potential.[1] To address this reason, our first post in this series reviewed social media’s impact on public discourse and proxy contests in the U.S. and Canada.

Another reason for the limited use of social media in Canadian proxy contests is the lack of specific regulatory guidelines. Unlike in the U.S.,[2] in Canada there is no regulatory guidance on the use of social media to communicate with shareholders. This article reviews some legal considerations applicable … Continue Reading

Harnessing Social Media in Proxy Contests: Not Just “Social”

Posted in Private Equity, Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

Social media has revolutionized how stakeholders receive information about companies. An estimated 1.79 billion people used social media in 2014; 2.44 billion will by 2018.[1] Despite such staggering statistics, social media has not been leveraged to its full potential in Canadian proxy contests. According to a 2013 survey,[2] a majority of directors on the boards of Canada’s largest companies acknowledged that they did not know much about social media.

This is the first of two posts about harnessing social media in Canadian proxy contests. It reviews the use of social media to influence public discourse and proxy contests … Continue Reading

CSA Releases Amendments to the Take-Over Bid Regime

Posted in Private Equity, Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

On March 31, 2015, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) published a CSA Notice and Request for Comment with respect to proposed amendments to Multilateral Instrument 62-104 – Take-Over Bids and Issuer Bids (MI 62-104) and changes to National Policy 62-203 – Take-Over Bids and Issuer Bids.

The proposed amendments codify and in some cases clarify the concepts previously announced by the CSA in September 2014 and result in some significant changes to the take-over bid regime. Please see our detailed report Amendments to Take-Over Bid Rules Will Deliver More Support to Boards for an in-depth review of some of the … Continue Reading

New 2015 Competition Act Merger Notification Threshold

Posted in Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A

The Competition Bureau has announced that the pre-merger notification transaction-size threshold for 2015 will increase to $86 million from the 2014 threshold of $82 million.  The 2015 threshold will come into effect immediately following publication in the Canada Gazette Part 1 (anticipated to occur on February 7, 2015).  As per the indexing mechanism set out in the Competition Act (Act), the pre-merger notification threshold is reviewed annually.

The threshold is based on the book value of assets in Canada of the target (or in the case of an asset purchase, of the assets in Canada being acquired), or the gross … Continue Reading

New 2015 Investment Canada Act WTO Review Threshold

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

Industry Canada has announced that the 2015 Investment Canada Act (“Act”) threshold that applies to most direct acquisitions of Canadian businesses by non-Canadians will be C$369 million.  This is an increase from last year’s $354 million threshold. The threshold applies to the gross book value of the target’s assets. Note that under the Act, a non-Canadian includes a Canadian-incorporated entity that is ultimately controlled outside of Canada.

The existing lower threshold of C$5 million will continue to apply to transactions that relate to cultural businesses or where none of the parties are from a country that is a WTO member.… Continue Reading

Bitcoin Accepted Here? Funding M&A Transactions by Way of Bitcoin

Posted in Private Equity, Private Transactions, Strategy

There is no denying the increasing popularity and notoriety of the virtual currency Bitcoin.  Bitcoin market capitalization currently stands in the billions of dollars, with over 13 million Bitcoins having been mined and made available for circulation.  An increasing number of merchants, including Dell, have begun accepting payment by way of Bitcoin.  The list of goods and services that have been purchased with Bitcoin now includes university tuition, airline tickets, cars, and pizza delivery.  Some companies have started paying employees in Bitcoins.  Canada in particular has been a world leader in Bitcoin ATM’s: the first Bitcoin ATM in the world … Continue Reading

GOOD FAITH BARGAINING? Recent Decision Implies a Duty to Negotiate in Good Faith

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Strategy

A duty to negotiate in good faith appears to run counter to the adversarial nature of bargaining. However, parties may have a duty to negotiate in good faith according to the recent decision in SCM Insurance Services Inc. v. Medisys Corporate Health LP, 2014 ONSC 2632, where the Ontario Superior Court held that the parties had intended to create “an enforceable obligation” to negotiate in good faith despite no express covenant to do so.

Summary of Facts

In 2011, Medisys sold its independent medical examinations (IME) business to the Plaintiffs and agreed to a five year non-compete and non-solicit … Continue Reading

New 2014 Competition Act Merger Notification Threshold

Posted in Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A

The pre-merger notification transaction-size threshold for 2014 has increased to $82 million from the 2013 threshold of $80 million. As per the indexing mechanism set out in the Competition Act (Act), the pre-merger notification threshold is reviewed annually.

The threshold is based on the book value of assets in Canada of the target (or in the case of an asset purchase, of the assets in Canada being acquired), or the gross revenues from sales “in or from” Canada generated by those assets, calculated in accordance with the Notifiable Transactions Regulations under the Act.  The Competition Bureau must generally be given … Continue Reading

SHOTGUN! You should know this before triggering a buy-sell provision

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Shareholders, Strategy

There are important lessons in a recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision examining shotgun buy-sell provisions, and in particular, the enforceability of a buy-sell offer that does not perfectly comply with the terms and conditions of the shotgun provision.

Unanimous shareholder agreements, partnership agreements, and joint venture agreements often contain what is commonly known as a “shotgun buy-sell provision”, which provides a mechanism for involuntarily expelling one or more parties from the business venture when the business relationship between them sours.… Continue Reading

DEFENSIVE TACTICS DURING A PROXY CONTEST: lessons from the Oremex saga

Posted in Private Equity, Private Transactions, Shareholders, Strategy

There are important lessons in a recent Ontario Superior Court decision examining defensive tactics taken by a board in the context of a contested shareholders’ meeting.

In Concept Capital Management Ltd. v. Oremex Silver Inc., 2013 ONSC 7820, the board of Oremex — during a contested election — postponed a shareholders’ meeting and issued shares to a third party, GRIT, in a financing transaction that closed in escrow on the same date as the revised record date for the meeting. Oremex took the view that the new shares could be voted at the contested meeting.

Continue Reading

New 2014 Investment Canada Act WTO Review Threshold

Posted in Contractual Matters, Private Equity, Private Transactions, Public M&A, Shareholders, Strategy

Industry Canada has announced that the Investment Canada Act (Act) threshold for 2014 that applies to most direct acquisitions of Canadian businesses by non-Canadian investors from World Trade Organization (WTO) member countries is $354 million (an increase from last year’s $344 million threshold). The threshold applies to the gross book value of the target’s assets. Note that under the Act, a non-Canadian includes a Canadian-incorporated entity that is ultimately controlled outside of Canada.

The lower threshold of $5 million continues to apply to direct investments that relate to cultural businesses or where none of the non-Canadian parties comes from a … Continue Reading