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Norges Bank has excluded Canadian Natural Resources, Cenovus Energy, Suncor Energy and Imperial Oil from its US$1-trillion fund due to “unacceptable greenhouse gas emissions,” according to a statement from the bank. Two Brazilian companies and one Egyptian firm in the energy and resources sector were also blacklisted. (Reuters)

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Talking point: This is the first time Norges has fully banned any Canadian companies from its sovereign wealth fund. However, the fund began divesting from most of the four Canadian firms, and nearly two dozen others, in March 2019. The bank said unloading the holdings took a while due to the “market situation, including liquidity in individual shares.” The dramatic selloff in the oil sector reaffirms Norge’s move not as an ethical one necessarily, but financially prudent. The Canadian government seems to also be holding its corporations to higher environmental standards as the oil sector’s vulnerability is laid bare. For example, Ottawa’s recently announced corporate relief funding is contingent on firms showing how their operations “support environmental sustainability and national climate goals.”

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Pierre Lavallée is leaving to “pursue other opportunities,” the Crown corporation announced in a Friday afternoon news release. Annie Ropar, chief financial and administrative officer, will take interim charge. Sabia, the former CEO of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, will replace ex-RBC CFO Janice Fukakusa as board chair on April 15. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Lavallée is the third of the CIB’s three top executives to leave in short order. Nicholas Hann, head of investments, and François Lecavalier, head of project development, departed in July and December 2019, respectively; neither had been in the role for much more than a year. In January, the Crown corporation said it was adopting a new corporate structure to better integrate its investments and advisory services, under new chief investment officer John Casola. Over his two years in the job, former pension fund executive Lavallée staunchly defended the pace and project mix of the bank’s cheque-writing. But senior officials in the federal infrastructure department reportedly didn’t share his outlook that things were moving quickly. New chair Sabia will be familiar with the bank’s operations—its first deal was a $1.28-billion loan for a Caisse-controlled light rail line project in Montreal.

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A group of Democratic and Republican senators plan to table a bill Thursday that would bar banks from processing “significant” transactions for foreign telecommunications firms that produce 5G technology and engage in industrial espionage. (Reuters)

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Talking point: The bill is directed at Huawei, if not exclusively. In a statement, Senator Chuck Schumer said, “It is time for the Trump administration to take swift and forceful action to block Huawei from accessing the U.S. financial system.” The law would restrict some international transactions with Huawei, since most payments are processed through U.S. banks. The bill comes as Washington tries to influence allies to ban the Chinese telecom from operating in their 5G networks. So far, it’s had mixed success: New Zealand and Australia have issued bans against the company, while the U.K. plans to allow the firm in parts of its networks; Canada’s decision, meanwhile, could still be months away.

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The bank lowered its overnight rate target by 50 basis points, from 1.75 per cent to 1.25 per cent. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The cut comes one day after the U.S. Federal Reserve reduced its rate by the same amount and G7 finance ministers and central bankers promised coordinated action to address the economic impact of COVID-19. This is Canada’s first rate cut since 2015, and is designed to reduce the “material negative shock” of the virus. However, the long-term economic impacts on the Canadian economy remain to be seen. Firms are adding COVID-19 risk to their earnings disclosures. Companies including GM Canada and Tim Hortons parent firm Restaurant Brands International are limiting corporate travel. Ottawa-based Shopify cancelled its upcoming conference, as has Toronto-based Vena Solutions, which was planning a 500-person conference in May.

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Users would be able to carry out transactions through the proposed payment platform in either the private Libra currency or in the digital equivalents of sovereign money, like the U.S. dollar or the euro. Facebook is also pushing back the release of its Calibra wallet from June to October, and may restrict the product to markets whose local currencies it supports. The social media giant said it is still committed to Libra; the non-profitLibra Association, which governs the project, said its goals and basic design principles have not changed. (The Information, Bloomberg)

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Talking point: Central banks and lawmakers have expressed concerns that if coins issued by private tech companies become popular, they could undermine countries’ sovereignty and governments’ ability to influence the economy through monetary policy. Calibra head David Marcus has denied that Libra is meant to replace national currencies. Accepting digital versions of dollars and euros is one way Libra can try to minimize that threat. But it could reduce consumer demand for the coin, since its promised benefits—cheaper money transfers across borders and easier transactions in countries with less developed financial systems—will apply to all the tokens it includes.

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A drop in its U.S. and Canadian retail businesses dragged down the bank’s earnings, which rose 24 per cent in total compared to the same quarter last year. Increased non-interest expenses and more money for potential loan losses also dampened profits. Meanwhile, National Bank joined other major Canadian lenders in beating analysts’ profit estimates: the country’s sixth-largest bank posted a 12 per cent increase in adjusted net income. (Financial Post)

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Talking point: The two banks wrap what was a generally strong first-quarter for the Big Six on the heels of the worst year for Canadian banks since the financial crisis. Across the board, their earnings were boosted by strong growth in their capital markets divisions. That’s largely a reflection of the strength of the financial markets at the time, and doesn’t necessarily signal longer-term improvements. Banks are under more pressure to invest in technology and at a time when credit risk is growing amid low interest rates and threats of an economic slowdown. Between the strong profits this season, banks earnings showed signs of headwinds: CIBC took a $339-million restructuring charge mainly to cover severance packages for the 2,200-plus employees it’s laying off, and three of the Big Six—TD, Scotiabank and BMO—have set aside more money for anticipated credit losses.