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IPO revenue up 50 per cent in '13

TORONTO -- PricewaterhouseCoopers says there was about $2.7 billion raised through Canadian initial public offerings last year -- a 50 per cent increase from 2012.

The accounting and consulting firm says there were a total of 30 IPOs on all Canadian exchanges in 2013, including six in the fourth quarter that raised $582.6 million on the Toronto Stock Exchange and TSX Venture Exchange.

In 2012, there were 62 issuers that went public, but they raised only about $1.8 billion, including 23 in the fourth quarter that raised $1.3 billion.

IPOs enable businesses to raise money by selling shares or other types of equity that will be listed and traded through a stock exchange.

Investors who buy into the business through the IPO will reap a profit if they sell the stock at a higher price, or a loss if the price goes down.

Among the most notable Canadian IPOs in the fourth quarter were Canadian Tire's real estate spinoff, which began trading in October. CT Real Estate Investment Trust (TSX: CRT.UN) began trading at $10.01 on Oct. 23 and closed the year at $10.92 on Dec. 31.

Engineering firm rebrands

MONTREAL -- The engineering firm Genivar Inc. starts the year with a new name and stock symbol, WSP Global Inc. (TSX:WSP), as part of a previously announced reorganization.

Genivar bought U.K.-based WSP Group PLC in mid-2012 for what was then the equivalent of C$442 million in cash -- a move that broadened the company's base outside Canada and tripled its total revenue.

A few months later, Genivar became one of the companies embroiled in Quebec's Charbonneau judicial inquiry into corrupt practices in the construction industry, but it continued to integrate the two businesses.

The Quebec-based company announced Tuesday its shareholders have received one share of WSP Global for each Genivar share, but the company remains listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange

"As we now operate across the world, the decision to rebrand our Canadian operations to WSP came as an obvious one. It will enable us to leverage this highly recognized brand worldwide," said Pierre Shoiry, WSP's president and chief executive.

The company also announced an addition to its board of directors, Josee Perreault, a senior vice-president at Oakley Inc. sports brands.

Perreault was credited with introducing the Oakley retail brand into Canada.

Wheat board backers to appeal

SWIFT CURRENT, Sask. -- The group Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board says it is moving ahead with a multi-billion-dollar lawsuit against the federal government despite a court ruling in the fall.

The lawsuit is over legislation that removed the wheat board's marketing monopoly on western wheat and barley sales.

Board supporters are seeking $17 billion in damages.

In November, a Federal Court justice struck down parts of the lawsuit that alleged expropriation and interference with economic relations.

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has said the ruling underscored the right of western Canadian farmers to market their own grain.

Stewart Wells, chairman of friends of the wheat board, says the appeal will seek to have all the claims reinstated in the lawsuit.

"We are appealing (the) ruling to the extent that we want to, of course, go ahead with all of the class action we had launched before, which was trying to get compensation for the assets that farmers had paid for at the wheat board," Wells said from his home in Swift Current, Sask.

The assets include rail cars and ships that were bought with money from farmers' grain sales and a contingency fund that was partially financed by producer fees.

Board supporters argued they had a proprietary interest in the assets.

"The government, by refusing to let farmers vote on the future of the wheat board... actually engaged in expropriation without compensation," Wells said.

On the expropriation issue, Justice Daniele Tremblay-Lamer ruled there had been no transfer of property.

"The loss of a single desk due to the change in the regulatory scheme is not enough in itself to claim a loss of a property interest," she wrote in the decision.

She also dismissed allegations the government interfered with the best economic way of securing farmers a premium price for their grain.

"The fact remains that the overwhelming majority of western grain farmers have embraced marketing freedom and are capitalizing on new economic opportunities that were impossible under the old single desk," she said.

Singer's BlackBerry gig over

WATERLOO, Ont. -- BlackBerry is parting ways with singer Alicia Keys after a year-long collaboration with the smartphone maker.

The Waterloo, Ont.-based company says Keys will be leaving her role as its global creative director on Jan. 30.

Her involvement with the company drew criticism from some outsiders, who said despite the decidedly corporate title, Keys was little more than a celebrity who was brought in to help promote its BlackBerry 10 smartphones.

BlackBerry has insisted Keys had a more direct involvement in its operations, highlighting her work on a four-year scholarship program that encouraged young women to enter specific science and technology fields.

The company brought Keys onto the team last January at the splashy New York launch of its BlackBerry 10 smartphone line, which was supposed to mark a new beginning for the well-known brand.

She appeared at numerous corporate events throughout the year and in some promotional material.

"We have enjoyed the opportunity to work with such an incredibly talented and passionate individual," the company said in an emailed statement.

BlackBerry shares rose 19 cents to $8.09 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Chinese factory indexes slip

BEIJING -- Chinese manufacturing indexes fell in December, underscoring challenges for President Xi Jinping as he tries to sustain growth in the world's second-largest economy while rolling out reforms.

A Purchasing Managers' Index from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics fell to 50.5 from 50.8 the previous month, according to a statement Thursday, and a separate gauge compiled by the statistics bureau and logistics federation released Wednesday declined to 51 from 51.4.

Swelling local-government debt, surging property prices in some cities and volatility in money-market rates are risks as Xi embarks on reforms intended to lay the foundation for more sustainable long-term growth. Gross domestic product may have expanded 7.6 per cent in 2013, the slowest pace in 14 years, according to a State Council report last week.

The PMI readings "confirm our view that growth momentum has peaked and will continue slowing," said Dariusz Kowalczyk, senior economist and strategist at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong.

"China's GDP growth will decelerate to 7.2 per cent this year, more than expected, which will weigh on many regional asset prices."

Shares in China fell after the HSBC report. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index was 0.4 per cent lower at the 11:30 a.m. break. Mainland stocks traded in Hong Kong declined, with the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index down 1.3 per cent as of 11:13 a.m.

The Shanghai index fell about seven per cent in 2013, the third decline in four years, as rising money-market rates and slowing growth fuelled investor concern that corporate profits will decline.

-- from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 3, 2014 B7

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