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GWL acquires PDAssure

GREAT-West Life has acquired Toronto-based PlanDirect Insurance Services Inc. (PDAssure), a company that provides health and dental insurance to retired Canadians who are not covered by a group benefit plan.

PDAssure will keep its name and will operate as a subsidiary of Great-West Life. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

PDAssure was founded in Toronto in 1993. Great-West Life agreed to become the insurer and the first policies were issued in July 1994.

The company offers Plan Direct and Sonata Health products for retirees plus a number of product options. Distribution is primarily through licensed insurance agents but many employers also direct retiring employees to PDAssure.

Company founders Millar Drummond and Rolf Normandin will continue to be associated with PDAssure for an interim period, to help ensure a smooth transition.

AT&T renews WesTower deal

WINNIPEG-based Exchange Income Corporation (EIC) announced Wednesday AT&T has renewed its contract with EIC's WesTower subsidiary for a three-year period.

WesTower installs and updates cellphone towers across North America and has a massive contract with AT&T.

WesTower generated $167.6 million in revenue in the second quarter this year and was responsible for more than 60 per cent of EIC's revenue in the period.

The operation has struggled to generate strong profit margins and EIC has undertaken a large-scale re-engineering of the operation to make it more efficient.

Mike Pyle, chief executive officer of EIC said, "This is another step forward in the progression of WesTower. We have invested considerable time and capital into our ability to perform under this contract and we are excited to continue to deliver our services to this important customer."

EIC shares closed up 43 cents to $20.34.

More Canadians buying online

VANCOUVER -- A new study says more than eight in 10 Canadian Internet users have made an online purchase in the past year, with cosmetics, furniture and pet products among popular items.

The Ipsos Reid survey says 82 per cent of Canadians were buying online, with consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 making the most digital purchases.

It says 92 per cent of these younger consumers have purchased online this year, while 82 per cent of those aged 35 to 54 have bought online, and 74 per cent among those 55 years and older.

The survey also found the average amount of reported spending for online purchases was $954 annually.

When looking at the most common items purchased online, cosmetic and beauty products were up six percentage points to 29 per cent from last year; pet products were up six points to 17 per cent; furniture and housewares were up five points to 23 per cent; groceries were up five points to 15 per cent; and glasses and contact lenses were up four points to 15 per cent.

Despite the popularity of smartphones and tablets, desktops and laptops continue to be used the most for online purchases, with nine in 10 online purchases made with personal computers in the past 12 months.

-- staff / The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 4, 2014 B7

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