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The Toronto Region Board of Trade’s Trade Accelerator Program (TAP), which helps companies develop an export plan with the help of mentors, is getting $5 million; an additional $1.7 million will go to expanding TAP into Northern communities. TAP aims to help 1,000 Ontario companies export. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The funding is part of the government’s six-year $1.1 billion Export Diversification Strategy designed to increase exports by 50 per cent by 2025. When the strategy was announced in November 2018, the government said Canada has relied on a single trading partner, the U.S., for too long. Ng’s appointment to the new Export Promotion file in July 2018 came during a time of strained U.S. relations amid USMCA negotiations; that tension continues today as USMCA still has not been ratified. In Monday’s announcement, the government said its participation in USMCA, the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement, and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership gives Canadians access to 1.5 billion customers abroad. Ng told The Logic that the TAP program received funding due to its track record; of the 530 businesses that have received support, 47 per cent experienced sales growth and 85 per cent explored a global marketplace.

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Fernández won 48 per cent to current Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s 32 per cent. The peso dropped over 30 per cent, and the country’s main stock market fell 35 per cent. (Financial Times, BBC)

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Talking point: If Fernández can maintain his current support levels, he’s on track to win the presidency during the October 27 general election; Argentine law grants victory to a candidate with over 45 per cent of the vote, or over 40 per cent with a 10-point lead. Fernández’s priorities include boosting workers’ rights, expanding pensions and undoing many of the austerity measures Macri has put in place since 2015. Macri has opened the country up to foreign investment and focused on a number of business-friendly policies. The election also has significant implications for the International Monetary Fund, which provided its largest-ever loan, US$56 billion, to Argentina and has backed Macri. Fernández has repeatedly suggested that loan should be renegotiated.

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Bond Capital has commitments for the full amount of the fund, which it disclosed in a Securities and Exchange filing. The venture capital firm was co-founded by Mary Meeker and other former employees of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a top Silicon Valley fund. (Axios)

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Talking point: Every May, Meeker releases an Internet trends report that’s a must-read for the industry. The 2018 edition, for example, mapped the increasing number of sectors in which Big Tech companies are competing, identifying Amazon’s big move into advertising months before it started to receive widespread coverage. At Kleiner Perkins, Meeker backed the likes of Slack, Uber and Spotify. Bond plans to spend more of its money outside the U.S. than Meeker’s former employer, but that likely means Asia rather than Canada—she devoted an entire 24-slide section of the 2018 report to China’s tech sector.

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The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec 2019 returns, the highest in five years, added $31.1 billion to Quebec’s public pension fund manager’s coffers, for a total of $340.1 billion—more than enough to meet the needs of its depositors, said newly minted president Charles Émond. (La Presse)

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Talking point: Émond said the Caisse’s 2019 stock market performance, which at 17.2 per cent was lower than its 18 per cent benchmark, was due in part to its stake in SNC-Lavalin, whose stock price cratered as much as 67 per cent in the wake of its scandal last year. (The company’s lot has recovered substantially since.) The sorest of the Caisse’s bruises was its real estate portfolio, which saw a 2.7 per cent negative return. Nathalie Palladitcheff, president of the fund manager’s real estate wing, announced it would sell off one-third of its 25 shopping centres in Canada.

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The all-stock takeover, at US$58.74 per share, is expected to close in the fourth quarter and will see E*Trade CEO Mike Pizzi join Morgan Stanley. (The Logic)

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Talking point: This is the largest deal by a major Wall Street firm since the 2008 financial crisis, and it gives Morgan Stanley a major foothold in money management for the masses. The bank currently has three million clients with US$2.7 trillion in assets. E*Trade has more customers, at over 5.2 million, but significantly less in assets, at US$360 billion. In November 2019, E*Trade’s two main competitors, Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade, announced a merger. The previous month, Fidelity cut its trading commission fee. Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman had a message for the rivals of his newly acquired firm: “We’ll take on Schwab. We’ll take on Fidelity.”

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Canadians’ trust in four key institutions—government, media, business and NGOs—has declined in every category since last year, according to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer. Nearly half of Canadians feel capitalism is failing them and 76 per cent of Canadian respondents worry about losing their job, citing the gig economy, lack of training and a looming recession as being among the biggest perceived threats. Over 60 per cent of Canadians worry technology is changing too fast, that governments aren’t equipped to effectively regulate it and that technology will make it impossible to discern real from false information. They also have little faith in the leaders of their country: government and religious leaders, CEOs and the very wealthy were among the least trusted; scientists were the most trusted, followed by local community members and citizens. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The Canadian analysis of the report, released every year for the past 20 at the World Economic Forum, largely tracks with worldwide trends, though the country is slightly more cynical than the global average. Among the countries that trust institutions the least are Russia, the U.K., Japan and South Africa—many of which have seen upticks in populism in recent years. Despite social media’s reputation for propelling populist movements, both Canadian and global respondents to the Edelman survey noted their declining trust in social media, which they agreed is the least trusted news source.

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The Winnipeg-based company, which uses artificial intelligence to gauge the effect of financial-planning decisions on long-term savings health, has raised a total of $4 million since launching in 2018. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The bet on Conquest Planning marks the first Canadian investment for Portag3 since it closed its $427-million second fund in December. Clearly, the Toronto-based early stage venture capital firm likes what Conquest is offering, which is simplified financial tools for the hoi polloi: In October, Conquest won $1 million from Portag3 via Finance Montréal’s Start-up Pitch contest.

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The San Francisco-based online loan firm will pay US$185 million for Boston-based Radius Bank. LendingClub said it will break even after two years if the deal, which is expected to take up to 15 months to close, goes through. (The Logic)

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Talking point: LendingClub is not only the first U.S. fintech to buy a bank—it’s also leapfrogging rivals like Square and Varo Money, which are looking to offer bank-like services by securing their own federal licences. Banks are able to offer a wider array of products than the fintechs seeking to take away their customers. LendingClub was a pioneer of personal online loans: it had the largest U.S. tech IPO in 2014, hitting an US$8.5-billion valuation. Its shares have dropped significantly since then—its current market cap is US$1.1 billion—but the firm is hoping today’s news will improve its prospects. LendingClub expects to save US$40 million a year in bank fees and other costs from the deal, and it will also be able to make money off the approximately US$1.4 billion in assets that Radius holds. In Canada, fintechs are offering bank-like products in an attempt to grow their market share. Both Wealthsimple and Koho have chequing accounts. U.K-based fintechs Revolut and TransferWise both have acquired money-service licences in Canada, as well. 

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Makani is the first Alphabet company to be wrapped up since Sundar Pichai took over the reins in December. It was part of the company’s “Other Bets” division, which also invests in self-driving cars and smart-city projects, and which lost US$4.8 billion last year. (Financial Times)

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Talking point: Despite successfully demonstrating a flight off the coast of Norway last year, ”the road to commercial viability is a much longer and riskier road than we’d hoped … it no longer makes sense for Makani to be an Alphabet company,” said Astro Teller, Alphabet X head and chairman of Makani’s board. Founded in 2006, Makani created airborne wind turbines (or energy kites). The California-based company was acquired by Google in 2013 as part of its Google X “moonshot” wing. It became a standalone Alphabet subsidiary last year after an investment from Royal Dutch Shell. Concerns about the technology remained: in 2018, an EU report pointed out, “The technology still has a long way to go before it can reach commercialisation.” Makani CEO Fort Felker said Shell is “exploring options to continue developing Makani’s technology.”

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Ian Scott, the telecommunications regulator’s CEO, said the meetings will focus on competition in the mobile market; the possibility of requiring the country’s legacy telecom providers to give mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) access to their networks at set prices; and rules to speed up 5G infrastructure deployment. Industry representatives, startups and municipal governments are scheduled to testify. Going first, the Competition Bureau said mandated network access should be given only to firms with existing telecom infrastructure. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Despite strong opposition from existing wireless carriers, policymakers appear increasingly sold on some form of regulation to help MVNOs—carriers that buy access to existing telecom infrastructure rather than building their own— expand in the Canadian market. The Liberal government has signalled it plans to open the market to MVNOs, and in March 2019, the CRTC said it was considering mandated access. The Competition Bureau’s model would limit the number of new entrants in the Canadian market, since building or acquiring facilities to qualify would require significant capital. But the antitrust watchdog argued a “broad” policy would hurt the competitiveness of existing fourth-place carriers in different parts of the country, whose presence it said has helped reduce prices.