Canada’s Commercialization Crisis and Shortage of Venture Capital: Will the Federal Government’s Solution Work?

Good article on the Government's program for the Venture Capital crisis in Canada.Click here to read. It is by Stephen Horowitz, American law firm, Choate lawyers.

Addressing Canada’s Commercialization Crisis and Shortage of Venture Capital:  
Will the Federal Government’s Solution Work?  --  that was just published in the Technology Innovation Management Review (Carleton University).   It analyzes the federal government’s $400 million VC Plan and the impact of its contemporaneously-announced phase out of labour-sponsored fund tax credits. Click here to read.

Why Owners Do Not Sell When They Should - Michael Lay, OnCap

In the Globe and Mail, interesting article with a highly relevant comment from Michael Lay, managing partner at Onex's mid-market private equity business, Oncap.

It's a tough time to acquire. Many private businesses the group has pursued have owners who believe strength is returning to the equity markets and are reluctant to sell. "Or, a number of them have said 'I'm comfortable with my business, I know it, if you guys write me a cheque I don't know what I'd do with it,'" he said.”

What do you think?


90 cross-border deals – or almost 40% of M&A deals - Finance Post

Canadians are buying foreign companies. In fact, in this last quarter, Canadian firms did 90 cross-border deals – or almost 40% of all M and A deals.

Barry Critchley, doyen of the finance industry, has the details on his interesting blog over at the Financial Post. Worth the read:

According to Crosbie & Co. Inc. 224 transactions representing $44.7-billion in total value were announced in the second quarter — or 9.4% more activity and 52% more value than in the first quarter.
“While the increase in announcements was not overwhelming, it represents a break from a declining multi-quarter trend and a return to a more normal range of quarterly activity,” said Colin W. Walker, the managing director at Crosbie & Co.: “Business conditions continue to remain relatively favourable for M&A in most industry sectors and could support much higher levels of activity.”

Brian Koscak, EMDA - Selling To Accredited Investors – You Better Get It Right!

Private Capital markets are seen to be exciting but also fraught with danger. Industry players know that they need to keep the industry as transparent as possible and as safe as possible for investors. The grandmother with her retirement nest egg needs to be ensured that her savings are not getting stolen. Just as the food industry gets government regulation to keep everyone on a straight track, so does the private capital market. The industry has created an association - the EMDA. The Chair is the dynamic, and irrepressible, Brian Koscak, partner at Cassels Brock. Here is Brian's view on accredited investors:


How many times have you seen this situation? You have an attractive investment opportunity that you would like to bring to the attention of a potential investor but they are reluctant to provide you with the details of their full financial picture. You believe they are an accredited investor (AI) but you are not sure. You need to get this right since you can only do the private placement in reliance on the accredited investor exemption (the AI exemption) set out in section 2.3 of National Instrument 45-106 – Prospectus and Registration Exemptions (NI 45-106). What do you do? Does it matter if you get it wrong?
Canadian securities regulators are increasingly concerned that issuers and exempt market dealers (EMDs) are getting it wrong and selling exempt securities to non-AIs – the public. Continue reading at the EMDA website.
 By: Brian Koscak, EMDA Chairman and Partner, Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP
Afzal Hasan, Associate, Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP

Cross-border activity continues to play a significant role in Canadian M&A

Activity in mergers and acquisitions is continuing to climb.
Colin W. Walker says, "Cross-border activity continues to play a significant role in Canadian M&A with 90 cross-border transactions, representing 38.5% of the quarter’s announcements."
Not only did Canadian firms continue to be very active with foreign acquisitions in the quarter but the ratio of Canadian foreign acquisitions to foreign takeovers of Canadian firms hit a record level of 3.3:1. Consistent with recent quarters, real estate was a particularly active area for foreign acquisitions representing 22 (37%) of the foreign acquisitions in the quarter.

The information above is a summary of Crosbie & Company Inc.’s analysis of each quarter’s M&A activity. The data is compiled from Financial Post Crosbie: Mergers & Acquisitions in Canada, the most extensive database on M&A activity in Canada. To read in full, please click here.

Food industry winners are doing classic roll up acquisition strategy

Sofina Foods bought Jane's Foods for their strength of brand in the breaded chicken category. Spots of activity are also happening across the ethnic food industry in Canada, which is highly fragmented, with a wide scattering of companies making revenues from $10-million to $100-million. These owners are often running lifestyle businesses and they serve a niche market, such as tropical fruit drinks and spicy snacks for Asian customers.
The range of consumers clamouring for exotic tastes such as coconut water or tandoori-barbeque flavoured chips is expanding. Big companies, including Pepsi and Loblaws, are private-label innovating in this segment. Owners of ethnic food companies are finding their products moving from the back shelves to front-and-centre at the big-box retailers and gas stations to catch the consumer eye.
There are few large ethnic food players in Canada to keep a good balance of power with the corporate retailers and wholesalers who have been consolidating. The opportunity is ripe for a large company to roll-up the smaller ones and create a significant ethnic food business.

Do Your Acquisition Strategy First

Owners of companies in the food industry or manufacturing could learn from the owner of high tech businesses. One lesson would be how to grow revenues without having to burn through R&D money.
Here is an article on Thomson Reuter, PE Hub, explaining more:

  In the world of technology, companies are increasingly moving beyond growing organically and using acquisitions to enlarge their operations. Some have also made a strategic decision to acquire R&D rather than try to grow innovation in house.
Take for example Apple’s acquisition this summer of Toronto-based Locationary, the venture-backed startup that specializes in location data.  According to a number of market experts, this deal allows Apple – which has its own R&D division – to immediately augment its mapping service so that users can access up-to-date information on local businesses.
Whether the acquirer is Apple, Google or Blackberry, the objective in these acquisitions must be carefully defined. That’s the view of John Banks, who teaches MBA students about M&A at Waterloo, Ontario’s Wilfrid Laurier University. “Regardless of how attractive the deal price or fortuitous the opportunity, it is essential that the impact the acquisition is intended to have on the company’s strategic direction be both understood and realistic for the transaction to be truly successful,” Banks says.