Business

Business NOTES

KIMBERLEY NOBLE April 26 1999
Business

Business NOTES

KIMBERLEY NOBLE April 26 1999

Business NOTES

ROYAL OAK RECEIVER

An Ontario Court judge has appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers as the interim receiver for embattled Royal Oak Mines Inc. The receiver has the power to start selling the gold-mining company’s assets. A Royal Oak lawyer said his client may still survive under protection of the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, a federal law that was used to restructure Eaton’s department stores.

SITUATION OVERLOAD

Discount brokers including Toronto Dominion Bank’s Green Line Investor Services Inc. and the Bank of Montreal’s InvestorLine were hit with a rash of complaints from clients who could not get through by phone, computer or the Internet to trade stocks. Bank officials said trading volume increased as much as 40 per cent in less than two weeks and overloaded computers. Trades involving stocks with an Internet component were particularly numerous.

ROAD ALL THE RAGE

Ontario reached a deal to sell an electronic toll highway north of Toronto to SNC-Lavalin Group, the Caisse de dépot et placement du Québec, and Spain’s Grupo Ferrovial for $3.1 billion. The Quebec-led consortium also agreed to spend $900 million to extend Highway 407. The deal was a coup for the Ontario government, which more than doubled its $1.5-billion investment in the roadway.

AXE FALLS AT CTV

In a bid to shave $8 million a year from its budget, CTV Inc. announced plans to cut 131 full-time jobs at regional stations across the country. The private broadcaster said two-thirds of the positions are in administration and operations and will not substantially affect programming. CTV says the cutbacks are the result of a general shift in advertising from local and regional markets to national audiences.

LISTENING TO THE BANKS

After meeting with the chairmen of the country’s six biggest banks, Finance Minister Paul Martin said the institutions require more flexible regulations to compete internationally. The banks want their tax load reduced, fewer limits on bank ownership and the ability to lease autos and sell insurance through branches.

Rogers aims for staying power

Rogers Communications Inc. president Ted Rogers may have finally found the executive he has been looking for to lead his company’s flagship cable subsidiary into the next millennium—or, at the least, for more than a few months. There has been a turnover of three chief executive officers at Rogers Cablesystems Ltd. since 1996, starting with the departure that year of longtime CEO Colin Watson.

The latest to beat a premature retreat is Trey Smith, a U.S. cable industry executive who was lured out of early retirement in California six months ago to head up the Toronto-based cable television provider. Smith announced last week that he was leaving Rogers for personal reasons, which he chose not to discuss. His resignation is widely linked to his realization that—however enthusiastic Canadian investors are becoming about Rogers’s cable assets—working with the entrepreneur who built the company is not for everyone.

The Rogers board hopes his replacement will be different. Taking over from Smith this week is John Tory, the president and chief executive of Rogers Media Inc. and Maclean Hunter Publishing Ltd., which owns Maclean’s. Tory, 44, has known the company’s founder since he was 15. He says a young Ted Rogers worked for his grandfather as an articling student at Tory Tory DesLauriers & Binnington and that the two men met years later through their involve-

ment with the Progressive Conservative party. Tory first worked for Rogers’s broadcasting company when he was in his teens, then went on to become a lawyer, dividing his time between law and politics, including a stint as Ontario premier William Davis’s principal secretary. In 1995, he returned to Rogers Communications as a senior executive.

Tory’s experience made him a natural choice when the cable job fell vacant for the third time in as many years. Investor perception of Rogers’s potential may be on the upswing, but Tory says the cable operation has a lot of work ahead adjusting to new competition and improving customer service. 1 He is confident his familiari1 ty with the corporate culture 5 will make a difference. ‘We £ have a solid working relationship,” he says of Rogers. We can be frank with one another and get the job done.” A senior media executive who knows both men hopes Tory is right “John knows what he’s doing. He has his eyes wide open and he thinks he can handle it.” In the wake of Tory’s appointment, Anthony Viner, president and CEO of Rogers Broadcasting Ltd., becomes the new president and chief executive of Rogers Media, while Maclean’s publisher Brian Segal takes over as president and CEO of Maclean Hunter. Paul Jones, head of Canadian Business Media, replaces Segal as publisher oí Maclean’s.

KIMBERLEY NOBLE

FINANCIAL OUTLOOK

Of all the months to pick, foreign visitors chose February to come to Canada in numbers not seen in more than a decade. During the height of the Canadian winter, foreigners made 1.7 million overnight visits (one or ( more nights), Statistics Canada reported. The seasonally adjusted figure represents a 4.1-percent jump over January.

By far, the majority of travellers were Americans, accounting for 1.3 million of the visits. And for the 13th consecutive

month, the number of overnight trips by Americans to Canada exceeded the number of Canadians who travelled to the United States. The reason for the interest is

simple. “Americans have a booming economy, strong consumer confidence and a stronger dollar,” a StatsCan spokeswoman said.

Canadians, however, have begun to show an increasing willingness to take their battered loonies across the border for a day’s outing. All told, Canadians made 2.2 million same-day car trips to the United U I States, up four per cent n % from January, when such i I visits hit their lowest I level of the decade.