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Cellphone firms stay small

MONTREAL -- Canada's new cellphone companies still have a small market share in part because most consumers want all of their telecom services on one bill from one provider, according to a new report on the country's telecom sector.

Wind Mobile, Mobilicity and Public Mobile will have just under five per cent of the market -- about a million subscribers -- by the end of this year, the Convergence Consulting Group said Tuesday.

"The majority of Canadians buy bundles," said Brahm Eiley, principal at the Toronto-based telecom consulting group.

Many established players offer multiple services, including cable and Internet service, and offer a discount to those who get all from one provider.

Canadians look to pensions

TORONTO -- Years of volatile stock markets and low interest rates have made Canadians feel vulnerable about their retirements and they're looking to their pensions, a new report by Towers Watson suggests.

"Employees are willing to sacrifice cash pay, bonus opportunities and, to a lesser extent, paid time off to secure and increase their retirement benefits," the report said. "The increased appeal for security is also affecting the factors that employees look for in a job."

Companies have been switching from defined-benefit plans to defined-contribution plans because of the risks inherent in promising to pay a regular monthly benefit years in the future.

Americans more confident

WASHINGTON -- Americans are growing more confident in the economy, an encouraging sign for Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

A new survey of consumer confidence rose to a seven-month high Tuesday on expectations hiring will soon pick up. A separate report showed home values rising steadily.

"This is like an opinion poll on the economy without the political parties attached," said John Ryding, of consulting firm RDQ Economics. "People are feeling better. If so, they are less likely to vote for change."

The Conference Board's index of consumer confidence shot up in September to its highest level since February.

SNC shareholder no activist

MONTREAL -- One of SNC-Lavalin's largest shareholders says he would oppose any effort by an activist shareholder to push the engineering giant to sell all or part of its lucrative concessions business to unlock value.

Stephen Jarislowsky, whose company owns more than 14 per cent of the Montreal-based company, said SNC-Lavalin has room to improve but he sees no need for dramatic change or an infusion of cash.

"I think there's a need to do something to get more value and it's by re-establishing the company on an ethical and sound footing, the way it used to be always, and to look for business," he said.

Spain hit on many fronts

MADRID, Spain -- Spain's government was hit hard by the country's financial crisis on multiple fronts Tuesday as protestors enraged with cutbacks and tax hikes clashed with police near Parliament, a separatist-minded region set elections seen as an independence referendum and the nation's high borrowing costs rose again.

More than 1,000 riot police blocked access to the Parliament building in the heart of Madrid, forcing protesters into nearby avenues and shutting down traffic at the height of the evening rush hour. Spanish state TV said at least 28 were injured, including two officers, and 22 people were detained.

-- from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 26, 2012 B8

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