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Suzuki gets out of cars

RICHMOND HILL, Ont. -- Suzuki Canada says it plans to stop selling automobiles in this country after the 2014 model year.

The company says it will fully honour all product warranties and will ask current dealers to become warranty and service points as they transition out of the Suzuki auto business. Suzuki says it plans to focus on motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle sales as well as its marine division.

The announcement Tuesday came a little more than four months after Suzuki Canada said it was "business as usual" in this country despite a decision by its U.S. counterpart to get out of the auto sales business and seek court protection from creditors while it refocused on other products.

Although Suzuki Canada will exit the auto sales business, it says it isn't entering a court-supervised restructuring in this country.

The auto division sold about 5,500 units in Canada last year. Suzuki Canada says Suzuki Motor Corp. of Japan has been reviewing the long-term viability of automotive production for Canada since the U.S. decision in November and "concluded it was no longer feasible for it to produce automobiles for distribution and sale in the Canadian market."

San Gold sets records

SAN Gold Corp. took some write-downs on depletion of mineral properties, but the Manitoba gold miner achieved record gold production, record cash flow and record revenue.

The company owns 100 per cent of the Rice Lake Mining Complex at Bissett, about 235 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. It produced 86,506 ounces of gold in 2012, a 16 per cent increase over 2011 production of 74,277 ounces.

Revenue for the year was $142.1 million on sales of 85,690 ounces of gold at $1,659 per ounce, a 25 per cent increase from 2011 revenue of $114.1 million on gold sales of 71,684 ounces of gold. San Gold's costs per ounce of gold sold was up slightly from $848 to $855 per ounce in 2012

The company reported a loss of $13.2 million for 2012 compared with a loss of $5.1 million in 2011. It said the difference was due in large part to the increased rate of depletion-of-mineral-properties expense after the new resource-and-reserve estimate was released in the second quarter.

Newly appointed CEO Ian Berzins said in a release: "The company continues to make significant progress in building the Rice Lake Mining Complex. We have increased production year over year while improving cash flow from operations."

He said the company's recently completed $50-million convertible debenture offering will ensure the company is well-funded to finance its development plan.

BMO to raise 5-year rate

TORONTO -- Bank of Montreal will end a controversial low mortgage rate at the end of this week when the limited-time offer runs out.

The bank says the posted rate for a fixed five-year mortgage will return to 3.09 per cent, where it was before BMO lowered it to 2.99 per cent.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty had called Bank of Montreal to express his disapproval of its decision to offer the special low rate starting March 4.

The minister praised other banks when they didn't follow Bank of Montreal's lead and had one of his officials make a call when Manulife later announced a cut. Manulife decided a day later to reverse its cut, but BMO kept its offer in place.

The official date for the BMO change is Friday, but Canadian banks will be closed that day for the Good Friday holiday.

Flights to U.S. get easier

MONTREAL -- Air Canada passengers connecting to flights to the U.S. through Toronto's Pearson airport no longer have to retrieve their checked bags for U.S. Customs inspection.

The airline says a new system will automatically send travellers' checked baggage to connecting flights.

Passengers previously had been required to collect their checked baggage before clearing U.S. Customs.

Air Canada operates up to 355 departures a day from Pearson, with approximately half its customers making connections through Toronto.

The airline has up to 148 scheduled flights each day to 51 U.S. cities from its Toronto hub.

Berkshire likes Goldman

OMAHA, Neb. -- Warren Buffett's company will likely become one of the biggest shareholders in Goldman Sachs Group Inc. later this year, and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. won't even have to part with any cash to do so.

Berkshire and Goldman said Tuesday they renegotiated an agreement that gave Berkshire the right to buy 43.5 million shares of the investment bank for $115 a share. Now the 2008 deal will be settled with stock this fall.

-- staff / from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 27, 2013 B8

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