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Hiring plans drop slightly

WINNIPEG employers expect to dial back hiring a tad in the final three months of the year, the latest Manitoba Employment Outlook Survey found.

The workforce solutions specialist said 13 per cent of the local employers surveyed said they expect to add more workers in the fourth quarter. Three per cent said they anticipate cutting staff, 77 per cent said they plan to maintain current staffing levels and seven per cent said they were unsure.

"With seasonal variations removed from the data, Winnipeg's fourth-quarter net employment outlook of nine per cent is a slight decrease of two percentage points when compared with the previous quarterly outlook," said Gord Bretsen, regional director for Manpower's Pacific Region.

"It is also a three-percentage-point decrease from the outlook reported during the same time last year, indicating a fair hiring pace for the upcoming months," he added.

Modest hiring activity is also expected at the national level in the coming quarter, said Byrne Luft, vice-president of operations for Manpower Canada.

"The construction industry is anticipating the strongest gains, as slower growth in residential construction has been offset by strong demand in non-residential. This is expected to spur creation of new jobs on top of record high employment in the construction industry, though this is most pronounced in Western Canada," Luft said.

"Overall, we're seeing a trend of more companies hiring workers on a temporary or contract basis with relatively few choosing to hire full time," Luft added.


Richardson GMP buys biz

TORONTO -- Richardson GMP Ltd., Canada's largest independent wealth-management firm, is acquiring the Macquarie Group's Canadian retail business for $132 million.

Richardson said the acquisition of Macquarie Private Wealth Inc. will give it $28 billion in assets under administration.

"This transformational transaction... further establishes Richardson GMP as a firm that can compete with larger institutions while maintaining a boutique culture," president and CEO Andrew Marsh said.

"This transaction vaults Richardson GMP into a league of our own."

Richardson said it has agreed to acquire all of the outstanding shares of MPW Canada for about $132 million, which will be funded by an equity offering on a private placement basis.

Each of Richardson Financial Group, a subsidiary of James Richardson & Sons Ltd., and GMP Capital Inc. will equally subscribe to a preference share offering by Richardson GMP for total proceeds of $60 million.

An additional $30 million will be raised by a common share offering to all Richardson GMP shareholders, including GMP and RFG, on a pro rata basis. Upon completion of the offering, GMP and RFG will continue to own equal interests in Richardson GMP, with the balance being held by Richardson GMP's management and investment advisers.

Completion of the transaction, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approval by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada, is expected in the fourth quarter.

Macquarie Group, with headquarters in Sydney, Australia, is a global provider of banking, financial, advisory, investment and funds management services with offices in 28 countries. It employs more than 13,600 people with some $362 billion in assets under management.

Despite the sale of MPW Canada, Macquarie said it will continue to operate its diverse business in Canada including institutional equities, corporate advisory, funds management, asset finance and fixed income, currencies and commodities.


Fraud losses to climb

TORONTO -- More than half of North American insurance companies expect to see fraud losses related to personal insurance policies climb higher this year, a new study suggests.

Analytics software firm FICO surveyed 260 insurers in Canada and the U.S. in July 2013.

It found 57 per cent of companies expect to lose more money this year due to fraudulent claims on personal insurance products -- policies designed to protect individuals and their families.

In Canada, the provinces expected to be hardest hit by insurance fraud in 2013 are Ontario and Quebec.

The survey also found that one-third of insurers don't feel like they're adequately protected against fraud.

And more than half -- 61 per cent -- of insurers are seeing a rise in the prevalence of auto fraud rings, the study suggests.

"Insurance-claims fraud is big business -- and it's getting bigger," said Russ Schreiber, vice-president of the insurance and health-care practice at FICO, in a statement.

"With more people resorting to fraudulent activities, and fraud rings becoming more sophisticated, insurers must step up efforts to protect good customers, uncover organized fraud and improve the effectiveness of specialized investigative units."


Lift restrictions: Bell CEO

TORONTO -- Foreign-investment restrictions should be lifted for big telecom companies to allow the market to decide how many wireless competitors Canada can support, Bell CEO George Cope said Tuesday.

"There's nothing to be afraid of. Bring the competition on," Cope told the annual BMO media and telecom conference.

Big telecoms such as Bell, Telus and Rogers are restricted under federal rules to be more than 33 per cent foreign owned, while small players with less than 10 per cent market share have no limits.

The change in rules were a move by the federal government to increase competition in the sector.

"The capital markets are efficient. They will determine whether or not Canada will have two, three, four or five competitors -- period," Cope said.

But Cope said he doesn't believe parent company BCE. Inc. would ever be controlled by a foreign company.

"This one is personal. As a Canadian, I'm not so sure we'll ever see Bell Canada owned foreignly... the foreign markets can own stock, but I don't think it would be controlled."

Bell, Telus and Rogers have repeatedly argued foreign-investment restrictions should be lifted for all of Canada's telecom companies to allow them more access to capital.

Earlier this summer, U.S. telecom giant Verizon was reported to be interested in entering the Canadian market by buying new carriers Wind Mobile and Mobilicity. Verizon has since said it has no interest in Canada.

Cope repeated the rules for the next wireless auction of spectrum -- radio waves needed to make cellphone networks operate -- favour new entrants to the Canadian market.

Bell, along with Telus and Rogers, opposed the entry of Verizon participating in the Canadian market as a new player and, under the rules, qualifying to bid on more spectrum.

"We have the rules the government put in. They are very advantageous to a new entrant. So how they play out during the auction, we'll just have to see," Cope said.

Verizon passed on the Canadian market after announcing it was buying back a major stake in the company from U.K.-based Vodafone for $130 billion.

-- staff / news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 11, 2013 B5

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