First Global Achieves More Than 1 Million Users and Provides Corporate Update

/NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION TO U.S. NEWSWIRE SERVICES OR FOR DISSEMINATION IN THE UNITED STATES./

TSX Venture Exchange: FGD
Frankfurt Stock Exchange: 1G5

TORONTONov. 23, 2017 /CNW/ – First Global Data (“First Global” or the “Company”) is very pleased to announce that it has exceeded 1 million users, and would like to provide the following corporate update.

Annual General Meeting:

On October 26, 2017 the Company conducted its Annual General Meeting (“AGM”). The meeting was well attended with a record number of shareholders in attendance. The Company’s Chairman and CEO, Mr. Andre Itwaru presented the Company’s corporate overview, lines of business, corporate strategy, objectives and direction.

Mr. Itwaru shared that the Company’s corporate strategy includes a three-phased approach. Firstly, the Company partners with large strategic organizations which have an embedded customer base. Secondly, it works with its strategic partners to penetrate that embedded customer base by encouraging them to download the mobile app/register. Thirdly, the Company works with its partners to encourage those customers to use one or many of the services offered to drive revenues.

The Company’s current objectives include:

  1. Customer Acquisiton: by leveraging partners’ base of existing users
  2. Penetrating: 1 Million Active Users
  3. Monetizing: Drive annual revenue per user (“ARPU”) to $280
  4. Continue to increase profitability
  5. Increase customer penetration beyond 1 Million
  6. Duplicate model in each corridor and every deploy

Mr. Ken Zheng, Chief Operating Officer of one of the Company’s China based strategic partners, Lianlian Pay presented Lianlian and shared that Lianlian:

  1. Is the 4th largest mobile payment service provider in China
  2. Has a customer base of 150 million registered users
  3. Has 10,000+ online merchants
  4. Has processed in excess of US$ 80 Billion in transactions to date in 2017

Mr. Zheng demonstrated the world’s first social messaging based cross border remittance service which has been launched in partnership between Lianlian Pay and First Global on the WeChat messaging platform. Mr. Zheng also shared his views on the growth and potential of the partnership with First Global. The presentations were quite interactive and there was significant interest by shareholders with many questions and answers. Presentations are available for view at: www.firstglobaldata.com/agm

India Progress and User Base:

First Global is pleased to advise that in India, through its partnership with Vijaya Bank and the VPayqwik mobile wallet offering, the Company has achieved 972,364 users. The company is pleased with this penetration given the short timeframe services have been available in the Indian market. The Company is working with Vijaya Bank to continue increasing the number of users and to drive incremental transactions and revenues per user.

Remittances User Base, Lianlian Pay, and US Licenses:

First Global is pleased to announce that its user base for remittances services in the USA and Canada which includes the Happy Transfer service launched in cooperation with Lianlian Pay has achieved 322,024 users.

Happy Transfer is a service available in the USA on the WeChat social messaging platform. It allows a person in the USAto send money from their mobile phones to a user in China in approximately 9 seconds. The service is the first of its kind in the world. Launch of services occurs on a state-by-state basis. The Company has launched this service in 24 states, continues its launch program into the other 10 states and has been working with Lianlian Pay toward launch in Canada.

In 2017, the Company has increased its US state money transmitter licenses by 13 and continues to work toward achieving all 50 licenses. The full complement of state licenses will enable the Company to offer all of its services country wide in the USA.

AnalytixInsight:

On July 5, 2017 the Company announced that it had entered into a Letter of Intent with Analytixinsight to expand First Global’s mobile payments services across Europe and elsewhere in a revenue sharing model. AnalytixInsight will leverage its partnerships with organizations such as Samsung and Intesa Sanpaolo, to expand First Global’s mobile payments services across Europe and elsewhere as determined by the Parties in a revenue sharing model. Intesa Sanpaolo – one of Italy’s largest banks with a market cap of over €45 billion – has shared ownership in AnalytixInsight’s subsidiary Marketwall. Under the partnership, Intesa Sanpaolo will migrate approximately 8 million mobile banking users in 8,000 retail branches to Marketwall’s mobile platform across five European countries, to provide a range of mobile payment services.

The Company would like to advise that it is actively working with Analytixinsight to conclude the definitive agreement and to engage project teams toward service deployment anticipated to occur in Q1, 2018.

China Smartpay:

On September 25, 2017 First Global announced that it has entered into a Binding Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) with China Smartpay to deliver cross border payment solutions for Chinese vacation travelers and students studying overseas. The Company would like to advise that it is actively working with China Smartpay toward conclusion of the definitive agreement and service launch in time for Chinese New Year on or prior to February 16, 2018.

In the September 25, 2017 announcement, Mr. Xiong, the President of China Smartpay Group Holding advised that, “Chinese outbound tourism will continue to experience consistent rapid growth. In 2016 Chinese outbound tourists spent 216 billion US dollars, of which the United States accounted for 120 billion US dollars. This shows that the North American market is one of most important destinations for Chinese tourists…China Smartpay Group…is partnering with First Global Data for its leading technology, licenses, and wide payment network and capabilities in North America to carry out the North American market mobile payment business.”

“The AGM was a great success. I sincerely appreciated meeting our shareholders, sharing our vision and progress, answering their questions and listening to their perspectives and advice. I am also very pleased with the progress we have made toward increasing our customer base. We are focused on having all of our deployments around the world contribute toward achieving 1 million active users generating $280 of revenue per user per year. We are very pleased with the progress we have made with our China based partners as we deploy innovative solutions for the very large overseas Chinese demographic and shoppers. We also continue to improve our technological capabilities which includes enhancing our existing mobile wallet to encompass the acceptance of crypto currencies in a compliant and regulatory manner, and this solution will be available on a white label basis to our strategic partners. We believe that the impact of the progress we have made will be better understood toward the end of 2017 and into 2018″, said Andre Itwaru, Chairman and CEO of the Company.

About First Global

First Global is an international financial services technology (“FINTECH”) company. The Company’s two main lines of business are mobile payments and cross border payments. First Global’s proprietary leading edge technology enables the convergence of compliant domestic and cross border payments, shopping, Peer to Peer (“P2P”), Business to Consumer (“B2C”), and Business to Business (“B2B”) payments. First Global enables its strategic partners and clients around the world with our leading edge financial services technology platform.

Caution:
Neither TSX Venture Exchange Inc. (“TSXV”) nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSXV) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

The securities offered have not been registered under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and may not be offered or sold in the United States absent registration or an applicable exemption from the registration requirements. This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy nor shall there be any sale of the securities offered in any jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful.

Forward Looking Information:
This news release contains “forward-looking information” within the meaning of applicable securities laws. Although First Global believes in light of the experience of its officers and directors, current conditions and expected future developments and other factors that have been considered appropriate, that the expectations reflected in this forward-looking information are reasonable, undue reliance should not be placed on them because First Global can give no assurance that they will prove to be correct. Readers are cautioned to not place undue reliance on forward-looking information. Actual results and developments may differ materially from those contemplated by these statements. The statements in this press release are made as of the date of this release. First Global undertakes no obligation to comment on analyses, expectations or statements made by third-parties in respect of First Global, its securities, or financial or operating results (as applicable). First Global disclaims any intent or obligation to update publicly any forward-looking information, whether as a result of new information, future events or results or otherwise, other than as required by applicable securities laws.

SOURCE First Global Data Limited

For further information: Andre Itwaru, Chief Executive Officer, t: (416) 504-3813, e: ir@firstglobaldata.com

Related Links

www.firstglobaldata.com

Fintech Select To Launch Physical Bitcoins

TORONTO, Nov. 09, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Fintech Select Ltd. (“Fintech Select” or the “Company”) (TSX-V:FTEC) is pleased to announce that it will be launching a test pilot project around it’s physical Bitcoin product line to accompany the closed loop Selectcoin card at participating retail locations.

We have been working on the physical Bitcoin project in stealth mode over the last quarter and are pleased to announce that the first shipment of coins will be ready to be deployed alongside the Selectcoin card.

The Company believes that the physical state of these coins embed with fractional amounts of Bitcoin and interconnected to a wallet will have a larger mass appeal to consumers who might have had an interest in buying Bitcoin but might not want to go through the traditional online process.  Furthermore, the physical state of Bitcoin storage on a physical coin format may also provide a novel way for cold storage safekeeping of this ever evolving new asset class.

“We believe that the creation of easy-to-acquire Bitcoin assets will allow the masses to readily participate in this emerging wealth creation, while also educating the masses regarding Cryptocurrencies,” states Mohammad Abuleil, CEO and President.

About Fintech Select Ltd.

Fintech Select is a provider of robust and disruptive Pre-Paid Card programs, mobile banking solutions and Cryptocurrency technologies. ?Fintech Select has enabled these core assets which operate through separate divisions to work together harmoniously to create a new and ubiquitous environment for consumers and businesses alike. Fintech select also operates an international call centre that provides fulfillment and customer service support to customers across all three platforms mentioned. ?Our mission is to provide customers with choice, convenience and cost-effective ways to facilitate traditional and crypto financial transactions.

Follow us on:
https://www.facebook.com/FintechSelect
https://twitter.com/fintech_select
https://www.instagram.com/fintechselect
https://www.linkedin.com/company/25080093/admin/updates

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

David Vinokurov
Investor Relations
dvinokurov@fintechselect.com
416-716-9281

Central Banks in the spotlight

The European Central Bank held its most-watched meeting of the year, setting out a roadmap for the withdrawal of quantitative easing (QE) that investors interpreted as moderately dovish. The Bank of Canada also took a more dovish than expected tone in the comments that accompanied its decision to leave its overnight rate unchanged. In Japan, Shinzo Abe’s landslide win in last weekend’s election shored up investor confidence in the continuation of stimulative monetary policy there. In stark contrast, increasing speculation that John Taylor might be the next Chair of the Federal Reserve pushed U.S. treasury yields up, with 10-year treasuries breaking solidly above 2.40%, the highest they have been since last March. The resulting U.S. dollar strength, and weakness in virtually every other currency, including the Canadian dollar and the Japanese yen, was the primary mover of most markets this week.

As the Bank of Canada sounded caution on Wednesday, citing household indebtedness and NAFTA uncertainty (among other things), the Canadian dollar dropped sharply. But strong corporate earnings helped the S&P/TSX Composite index shake off the Bank’s wariness and finish the week at a record high. The staples, industrials, telecommunication services, and technology sectors all posted strong gains, while the materials and health care sectors led decliners.

The S&P 500 managed a small gain (to another record high), but was held back by concerns that a “Taylor Fed” would raise interest rates too far, too fast, and choke economic growth. Also in Washington, comments from retiring Senators Corker and Flake increased fears of political resistance derailing tax reform efforts. Meanwhile actual economic readings and most corporate earnings reports continue to come in strong. New home sales blew away expectations, purchasing managers indices suggested accelerating growth, and third quarter GDP was solid despite the effect of hurricanes. Technology was the leading sector as mega-cap names such as Amazon.com and Alphabet (Google) surged on earnings reports. The telecommunication services and health care sectors saw big declines, driven by subscriber losses at AT&T, and earnings misses at Biogen Inc. and Celgene Corporation.

European equities were mostly higher as investors welcomed the dovish bias to the ECB statements, while keeping a cautious eye on Catalonia as Madrid took control of the region. Meanwhile economic news was also generally supportive. Eurozone PMIs pointed to ongoing expansion, GDP in the United Kingdom was stronger than expected, and the German business confidence index rose to its highest level in history. The yen sell off in Japan helped the Nikkei rally to its highest level since July 1996. The equity index’s step up on Tuesday capped a record 16-day winning streak, during which it gained about 7%. Stocks in Shanghai moved solidly higher as the Communist Party’s congress came to an end, elevating President Xi Jinping’s stature and power. However, Hong Kong equities didn’t get as enthused.

What’s ahead next week:

Canada

  • Gross domestic product (August)
  • Industrial and raw materials prices (September)
  • Markit purchasing managers index (October)
  • Employment report (October)

U.S.

  • Federal Reserve interest decision
  • Personal income and spending (September)
  • Employment cost index (3rd quarter)
  • Conference Board consumer confidence (October)
  • Markit and ISM purchasing managers indices (October)
  • Vehicle sales (October)
  • Construction spending (September)
  • Employment reports (October)
  • Factory and durable goods orders (September final)

Money Transmitter Licenses and Canadian First Global Data in the U.S.

Almost every U.S. state requires a state license in order to transmit money into, out of or within the state. These licenses are expensive to acquire and to maintain and establish a financial barrier of entry.

Licensing requirements include the following considerations:

  • applicant’s financial condition
  • applicant’s net worth
  • amount of business for the previous year
  • anticipated business for the upcoming year

The cost of acquiring a license average more than U.S. $175,000 per state and the annual renewal fees on average are more than U.S. $135,000.

In addition to the various state requirements,  money transmitters must also register with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the U.S. Department of Treasury. Registration is valid for two years before it needs to be renewed. Money transmitters must use the BSA E-Filing System to submit initial registration forms and renewals. There are both civil and criminal penalties for money services businesses that do not register with FinCEN.

In effect, these regulations help to validate the worthiness of the companies that acquire the money transmitter license. Given the financial investment and the corporate strength in order to acquire the licenses, companies that are granted licenses achieve a degree of credibility.

It is believed that it is more difficult for foreign companies to acquire these licenses. However, given Canada’s highly developed, regulated and structured financial industry, Canadian-based companies are afforded a strong reputation internationally.

One Canadian, publicly traded company, First Global Data Inc. (traded as v.fgd on the TMX) is an international financial services technology (“FINTECH”) company. The Company’s two main lines of business are mobile payments and cross border payments. First Global’s proprietary leading edge technology enables the convergence of compliant domestic and cross border payments, shopping, Peer to Peer (“P2P”), Business to Consumer (“B2C”), and Business to Business (“B2B”) payments. First Global enables its strategic partners and clients around the world with our leading edge financial services technology platform.

First Global Data (www.firstglobaldata.com), according to their most recent press release, has acquired 31 money transmitter licenses. “We continue our focus on US wide licensing as the more State licenses First Global has, the larger the market opportunity for our services such as Happy Transfer launched on the WeChat social messaging platform with our China-based partner LianLian; for the Company’s First Global Money international remittances services which delivers into Latin America, India, the Philippines and other very large markets; for domestic USA peer to peer and mobile payment services; and for additional cross border payment services the Company intends to provide to consumers across the USA”, said Andre Itwaru, Chairman and CEO of First Global Data Limited.

This company is  positioned to strategically take advantage of Canada’s financial industry reputation, leveraging our access to the U.S. market and bridging it with Asian demand. With a stock price at under CDN$0.30, I’m curious to see the value of the users it has acquired through partnerships. With Canadian Schedule A banks paying thousands of dollars for credit card customer acquisitions, this company’s value might already be well beyond its stock price.

See related post: First Global Data Appoints Top Notch CFO

“Golden Week” for equities

While markets in China and South Korea took the week off for the mid-autumn festival, or “Golden Week” holiday, the S&P 500 Composite index climbed to new highs in four of the five sessions, ending its string of consecutive record-setting trading days at six, the longest such streak since 1997. Canada and most other developed markets tagged along for a nice start to the fourth quarter, a period that traditionally generates the best returns of the year. Spain was a notable exception, where last weekend’s Catalonian independence referendum unnerved investors and pushed the IBEX 35 index to a 15 month low. The tension surrounding the vote also appeared to weigh on the euro and strengthen the U.S. dollar. Disappointing trade data caused the Canadian dollar to retreat further from recent highs, dipping back below 80 U.S. cents.

Most sectors of the S&P/TSX Composite index advanced. The gains were led by the materials sector, especially miners, as copper and other industrial metals saw higher prices. Energy stocks, on the other hand, struggled as crude prices fell. Various reports suggested oil supplies were rising: Reuters reported OPEC output grew in September despite its earlier production cut agreement; oilfield services company, Baker Hughes, said more drilling rigs were in operation; Libya restarted its biggest oil field; and U.S. inventory data showed an increase in stockpiles.

The energy sector was a key laggard in the U.S. as well, where most sectors of the S&P 500 advanced. The financials sector led the gains, boosted by rising bond yields after Friday’s employment report showed rising wages and a tight labour market. Although most weekly and monthly data are currently being whipsawed by the effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, activity is recovering quickly. This week saw new motor vehicle sales at one of the highest paces on record (boosted by replacement of storm-damaged vehicles), strong purchasing managers indices for both manufacturing and services (the latter at the fastest rate of growth in this 93-month expansion), and solid employment reports (allowing for the hurricane distortions.) The materials sector was strong, as it was in Canada, but because of its comparative low weight, had less absolute impact.

Some peripheral equity markets in Europe, including Italy and Greece, lost ground, along with Spain, but major markets moved higher as the eurozone’s manufacturing expansion continues, led by Germany. The manufacturing PMI just hit a 77-month high and has been above the 50 percent mark (a signal of growth) for 51 consecutive months. Equities in the United Kingdom were also higher as Britain’s PMI slightly disappointed but remained at a healthy level. However, the pound weakened as doubts arose concerning Prime Minister Theresa May’s continued leadership.

Most Asian markets were closed at least part of the week, but joined the global stock rally when they were open. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index led a strong move mid-week and approached a 10-year high. Japanese markets, like those elsewhere, rose on stronger economic data, and the Nikkei 225 index broke out to a 20-year high.

What’s ahead next week:

Canada

  • Building permits (August)
  • Housing starts (September)
  • Teranet-National Bank home price index (September)

U.S.

  • NFIB small business optimism (September)
  • FOMC meeting minutes (September)
  • Job openings and labour turnover survey (JOLTS) (August)
  • Consumer and producer price indices (September)
  • Retail sales (September)
  • University of Michigan consumer sentiment index (October)
  • Business inventories (August)

Which Way Is The Toronto Housing Market Moving?

Toronto Detached Homes in high demand

I am often asked about where the Toronto housing market is headed. In the long-run we all know real estate has to go up. After all, there is only so much land and the population keeps growing. Toronto is one of the top destination cities for immigrants from around the world. However, in the short-term, as governments pass policies and regulations affecting housing, the Toronto housing market will be impacted.

We’ve already seen the consequences of tightening mortgage rules and the Ontario Government’s fair housing act, which seems to have contributed to dampening of house appreciation, while possibly decreasing availability of rental units and increasing rents. Contrary to what the government tried to accomplish? Correct. The reason being that with the extra costs of providing rental housing, any new units on the market will need to be rented at higher rates to cover the increasing tax and regulatory related expenses.

So, as the market adjusts to these new changes and with what I believe will be a Bank of Canada interest rate hike this month, I expect Toronto housing market growth to be hampered further. Of course, some neighbourhoods will be affected more than others. Contact me if you’re looking to buy and I’ll help you choose the right neighbourhood and home to meet your needs in this changing market.

Follow me for my next post in regards to another development this month that will further dampen Toronto housing market growth. (

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/baldo/)

Odds of a rate hike soar to almost 50% overnight after Canada’s growth wows economists

First Global Data Appoints Vicki Ringelberg as New CFO

NEWS PROVIDED BY

First Global Data Limited

06:00 ET

TSX Venture Exchange: FGD
Frankfurt Stock Exchange: 1G5

TORONTOOct. 2, 2017 /CNW/ – First Global Data Limited (“First Global” or the “Company”) announces the resignation of Nayeem Alli and the appointment of Vicki Ringelberg, as the Chief Financial Officer of the Company.

Nayeem Alli is a founder and has been a key contributor toward the vision and success of the Company. The decision to resign was a deeply personal one for him. The Company is working with Mr. Alli toward establishing a consulting relationship as he becomes ready. The Board of Directors, management and shareholders of First Global thank Mr. Alli for his dedication and contributions as Chief Financial Officer and sincerely wish him the best. Mr. Alli continues as a director of the Company.

Vicki Ringelberg is a high caliber executive with a track record of success. Ms. Ringelberg is currently the Chair of the Board of Trustees, Chair of the Governance and Administration Committee and previous Chair of the Audit Committee and Investment Committee of the OPSEU Pension Trust (OPTrust). Prior to that, Ms. Ringelberg spent over 20 years working in various senior financial capacities including Chief Financial Officer of Portland Investment Counsel and the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer of AIC Limited (“AIC”). During her tenure at AIC, Ms. Ringelberg was also a member of various boards. Ms. Ringelberg has broad experience in the financial services industry including managing large scale initiatives, implementing complex accounting systems, evaluating business opportunities and executing the acquisitions and sales of various businesses. Ms. Ringelberg is a CPA and also holds an MBA from the Rotman School of Business, University of Toronto.

“We respect Nayeem’s decision to step down as our CFO. He has been a leader since the Company’s inception and instrumental in the Company achieving the levels of success it currently has,” said Andre Itwaru, the Company’s Chairman and CEO. “We are very pleased that Vicki has agreed to join First Global. She brings an incredible level of experience, financial acumen and discipline to the Company, and I look forward to working closely with her as we take the Company to the next levels of its evolution.”

The appointment of Vicki Ringelberg as Chief Financial Officer is subject to acceptance by the TSX Venture Exchange.

About First Global Data Ltd. (www.firstglobaldata.com)

First Global is an international financial services technology (“FINTECH”) company. The Company’s two main lines of business are mobile payments and cross border payments. First Global’s proprietary leading edge technology enables the convergence of compliant domestic and cross border payments, shopping, Peer to Peer (“P2P”), Business to Consumer (“B2C”), and Business to Business (“B2B”) payments. First Global enables its strategic partners and clients around the world with our leading edge financial services technology platform.

Caution:
Neither the TSX Venture Exchange Inc. (“TSXV”) nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSXV) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

The securities offered have not been registered under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and may not be offered or sold in the United States absent registration or an applicable exemption from the registration requirements. This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy nor shall there be any sale of the securities offered in any jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful.

Forward Looking Information:
This news release contains “forward-looking information” within the meaning of applicable securities laws. Although First Global believes in light of the experience of its officers and directors, current conditions and expected future developments and other factors that have been considered appropriate, that the expectations reflected in this forward-looking information are reasonable, undue reliance should not be placed on them because First Global can give no assurance that they will prove to be correct. Readers are cautioned to not place undue reliance on forward-looking information. Actual results and developments may differ materially from those contemplated by these statements. The statements in this press release are made as of the date of this release. First Global undertakes no obligation to comment on analyses, expectations or statements made by third-parties in respect of First Global, its securities, or financial or operating results (as applicable). First Global disclaims any intent or obligation to update publicly any forward-looking information, whether as a result of new information, future events or results or otherwise, other than as required by applicable securities laws.

SOURCE First Global Data Limited

For further information: Andre Itwaru, Chairman and CEO, First Global Data Limited, email: ir@firstglobaldata.com; Renmark Financial Communications Inc., Steve Hosein: shosein@renmarkfinancial.com, Tel: (416) 644-2020 or (514) 939-3989, www.renmarkfinancial.com

See related post: First Global Data in the USA

Hurricanes, nukes, and central banks shake markets

September didn’t waste any time reminding investors of its reputation as the worst month for markets. Just as Hurricane Harvey petered out, Irma took aim at the Caribbean and Florida. North Korea’s largest yet nuclear test sent investors scurrying for safe havens. Most equity indices sold off and gold jumped 1.6% to its highest since last September. Central bankers upset currency and government bond markets, with yields declining almost everywhere – with Canada being the notable exception where a Bank of Canada rate hike caught most observers off guard and led to a surge in the loonie and Canadian yields.

The holiday-shortened week in North America began with a move toward normalization in oil and gas prices following Harvey, but by week’s end Irma renewed the pressure on West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) and energy stocks continued their slide. Consumer discretionary was the only sector of the S&P/TSX Composite index to finish measurably in the green. Overall the Canadian benchmark dropped 1.4%, with currency strength adding to the global concerns pressuring equities. Materials led the decliners on base metals weakness, but financials (which comprise a third of the index) contributed most to the index loss, taking their cue from the bank sell off south of the border (where yields fell), rather than from rising yields at home. The Bank of Canada rate hike led to speculation of further rate hikes sooner than what was expected, and pushed the loonie up 2.1% to its highest level since May 2015. Canadian bonds got thrashed as yields on the Government of Canada 10-year jumped roughly 10 basis points and the spread versus its U.S. counterpart fell to a four-year low of 6bp, down from over 80bp just three months ago.

The S&P 500 gave up 0.6%. Telecom services was the weakest sector but the heavier-weighted financials took the greatest toll, as it did in Canada. The sector saw banks pressured by falling interest rates – as hopes for another Fed rate hike this year faded (the 10-year Treasury yield dropped 11bps to 2.06%), and growing worries about potential Irma-related losses to insurers. A deal in Washington to delay the government debt ceiling faceoff only briefly relieved pressure on the U.S. dollar, which has now declined over 10% YTD against major world currencies. Dovish comments from Fed committee members added to the weak dollar outlook, as did new uncertainties about the future makeup of the committee.

Although European Central Bank President Draghi tried to talk down the Euro after the ECB’s meeting this week, the currency, nonetheless, pushed to a two and a half year high and put added pressure on European equities. German’s DAX was the only major European stock index to manage a gain for the week. All major equity markets in Asia and Japan participated in the global sell off. In Japan, as in Europe, currency strength added to the headwinds, with the Yen climbing to a ten-month high.

Economic data overpowers Harvey and Kim

This week began with Hurricane Harvey’s devastating floods in Texas rocking energy markets, and Kim Jong Un’s missile test through Japanese airspace rattling global markets in general. But a steady stream of much stronger than expected economic releases boosted optimism (especially in North America) and equities to solid gains, even as safe havens also advanced, including gold, the U.S. dollar and treasury bonds. A disappointingly weak U.S. employment report Friday looked to undo some of the moves but was quickly shaken off.

Canada’s S&P/TSX Composite stumbled out of the gate Monday, as Harvey wreaked havoc on energy prices and President Trump’s comments continued to complicate NAFTA negotiations. Gulf of Mexico refinery closures in the wake of Harvey crimped demand for oil, and the price of West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) fell 1.2% (while retail fuel prices spiked higher). Surging gold and materials stocks were not enough to overcome the downward pressure. Tuesday opened with a further dip as investors reacted to the North Korean test. But as geo-political fears ebbed, the economic data deluge started. Consumer confidence marked a stronger-than-expected reading in the U.S. – the second highest of this economic cycle – then in Canada jumped to the best level in nearly a decade. Gross domestic product (GDP) was similarly above expectations in both countries: in the U.S. the second quarter pace was revised up to the fastest in two years, while in Canada a six-year high in monthly GDP growth punctuated the fastest 12-month advance since 2006. By week’s end Canada’s benchmark equity index had gained 0.9% led by the strength in materials, especially gold stocks as the yellow metal jumped 2.7% to a new year-to-date high. The loonie, which had retreated 1.3% from last week’s close just above 80 cents U.S., surged on the GDP data to close up 0.8%.

The U.S. dollar index touched a two year low early in the week, but rebounded and strengthened steadily once geopolitical tensions eased and economic data showed the economy on a firm footing. U.S. 10-year treasury yields, initially falling 8 basis points to 2.09%, climbed back to 2.16%, helped by the stabilizing of the dollar and indications that the European Central Bank may delay its decision to wind down stimulus. The S&P 500 climbed 1.4% led by strong gains in health care, information technology, and industrials – all indicative of renewed economic optimism.

Following the trend set by Canada and the U.S., Euro area confidence rose to its highest level this decade. Other signs of economic strength included German unemployment falling to its lowest since reunification, and a flash estimate showing a jump in consumer prices. But equity markets were mixed, with some, including Germany and Spain, down as recent strength in the Euro continued to weigh on stocks. On Wednesday, the currency touched its highest level versus the dollar since January 2015.

Share prices in both Hong Kong and Shanghai posted solid gains as economic data in China reflected growth above expectations. And in Japan, the yen losing ground to the U.S. dollar helped the Nikkei 225 index advance 1.2%, led by banks and electronics firms.

 

Federal Department of Finance proposes tax measures affecting tax planning using private corporations

On July 18, 2017, Finance Minister Bill Morneau released draft legislation and other proposals, currently put forward for consultation, outlining changes with respect to tax planning using private corporations. The purpose of the proposed legislation is to close perceived loopholes and deal with tax planning strategies that are only available to certain taxpayers, namely shareholders of private corporations.

Income sprinkling and multiplication of the capital gains exemption

Income sprinkling is a tax arrangement which, but for the arrangement, would result in an individual reporting more income, dividends or capital gains. However, due to the arrangement, such income is reported by a lower-income individual, often a family member of the high-income individual.

Currently the Income Tax Act includes rules which limit the use of income sprinkling. With respect to salaries, such salaries are deductible to the private corporation only if they are reasonable based on work performed. Additionally, attribution rules will attribute income back to an individual who has transferred or loaned property to a non-arm’s length person at terms less than fair market value. Additionally, there is a tax on “split income” which applies when dividends and certain capital gains are allocated to minor children, also known as the “kiddie tax” rules. When the split income rules apply, the top marginal personal tax rate applies to such income (and most personal tax credits do not apply), thus eliminating any benefit of that income being earned by the minor.

The above provisions are not effective against income sprinkling with adults who have acquired their interest in the private corporation by appropriate means. As such, the government is proposing several measures to restrict the ability to income sprinkle. The main proposal involves extending the tax on split income provisions. The tax will now also apply to certain adult individuals who receive split income which is deemed to be unreasonable based on the labour or capital contributions made by the individual. These tests will be more rigorous for those aged 18-24.

Another restriction will be on the ability to claim the lifetime capital gain exemption. The key changes are:

  • An age limit – an individual can no longer claim the lifetime capital gain exemption if they are under the age of 18, nor can they claim it on gains accrued while they were under the age of 18;
  • No claim is available to the extent that the split income rules apply to the taxable portion of the capital gain; and
  • Individuals can no longer claim the LCGE in respect of gains that accrue while a trust held the property (this will exclude spousal or alter ego trusts).

Holding a passive investment portfolio inside a private corporation

More than one approach is being considered to reduce or eliminate the tax deferral currently available when private corporations retain active business income and invest those funds corporately in passive investments. The tax deferral available when active business income is earned within a corporation provides that corporation with more after-tax dollars available for investment. Even though passive income within a private corporation is aggressively taxed (through the refundable tax regime), there are more funds available for the initial investment, thus corporate investing will result in more accumulated savings than if the investment had occurred personally.

The government is considering several approaches which will accomplish the following objectives:

  • Preserve the intent of lower tax rates on active business income, to encourage growth and job creation; and
  • Eliminate the tax-assisted financial advantages of investing passively through a private corporation.

At this time, no specific proposals have been provided and the government is requesting input from stakeholders prior to drafting proposed legislation on passive investments held within a private corporation.

Converting a private corporation’s regular income into capital gains

The ability to extract corporate surplus (generally considered to be accumulated after-tax earnings plus unrealized corporate net value) via a capital gain rather than through a dividend or a salary is generally referred to as surplus stripping. Currently there are provisions in the Income Tax Act which prevent surplus stripping in certain situations involving non-arm’s length parties; however, not all surplus strip transactions are caught by these rules, particularly when the lifetime capital gain exemption has not been claimed. The proposed changes would expand the rules currently contained within subsection 84.1 of the Income Tax Act to prevent individual taxpayers from using non-arm’s length transactions to create a stepped-up cost base of shares of a corporation, which can allow for the ability to strip surplus from a corporation at a preferential rate.

These proposals may also impact certain post-mortem planning strategies which seek to eliminate double taxation which can occur when the shareholder of a private corporation dies and the corporation is subsequently liquidated and wound up.