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Huawei exec’s arrest halting Chinese firms’ Canadian expansion plans, says auto sector spokesman

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Several Chinese automakers planning to expand production into Canada have put their plans on hold over the Vancouver arrest of Chinese telecom giant Huawei’s CFO, says Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association.

“Those companies are saying, ‘Look, while we’re still interested of course, North America is a target market for our goods … right now, we’re going to put this on pause,'” Volpe told CBC News.

Volpe said that over the last several months, the APMA has hosted delegations from two major Chinese automakers and was planning on hosting another firm next month. Volpe would not identify the companies by name.

Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver earlier this month under an extradition request from the United States.

American prosecutors allege Meng deceived financial institutions into dealing in dirty money through an arrangement which saw Huawei and another company called Skycom doing business in Iran, in contravention of U.S. sanctions against the Islamic republic.

Volpe said the arrest has put a chill on the Chinese firms’ expansion plans in Canada.

“They’ve explicitly brought that up, and have changed the discussion to, instead of the immediate term, they’re talking about, ‘Well … let’s settle the uncertainty first and we might be a couple years out,'” he said.

Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were detained by China last week over what the Beijing News, a state-run Chinese newspaper, described as suspicion of engagement in activities endangering China’s state security — a move widely seen as payback for Meng’s arrest.

A Destination Canada ad promoting Canadian tourism to the Chinese market on the Chinese social media site Weibo. (weibo/Destination Canada)

The news of the Chinese automakers pulling back comes as Destination Canada, a Crown corporation that markets Canada as a tourism destination internationally, has called a temporary halt to its efforts to advertise in China.

“Destination Canada, along with our co-invested partners, (has) decided to temporarily pause or postpone our current marketing efforts in China,” said spokeswoman Emma Slieker.

“There are exceptional circumstances when geopolitical issues or tragic events make tourism marketing potentially damaging to the destination’s reputation, and has given cause for us to temporarily delay or pause marketing activities abroad.”

The Canada-China Year of Tourism 2018 was developed as a partnership to promote travel between the two countries. Tourism Minister Mélanie Joly had planned to be in Beijing for the closing ceremony, set for Dec. 17 to 20, but the government called off her trip last week.

Replacing Oshawa

Lynette Ong, an associate professor in the University of Toronto’s department of political science and Asian Institute, said that a two-year delay on Chinese investment in Canada is probably a “worst case scenario” and that a six month chill is more likely.

“I think the most serious consequences should be seen in the next three months or so — that is, when Meng’s extradition trial is due in February,” Ong said. “The next three months will be absolutely critical for Canada-China relations.”

Volpe said that Canadian auto parts makers were selling about $3 billion a year in product to the General Motors plant in Oshawa. Now that the automaker has decided to close that facility, the auto parts industry in Canada needs a new customer.

“An investment by a Chinese automaker would replace that capacity,” he said. “These opportunities run at the same scale as the ones that decide to leave.”

‘An emerging cold war’

The APMA president said there are only limited number of automakers around the world with the ability to replace the Oshawa facility — maybe five or six at the most. Luring Chinese manufacturers to Canada has become much more challenging, he said.

“We’re doing a lot of work to express that, on a 20-year investment basis, the Chinese can’t beat being in Ontario,” he said. “But … the Americans have put us in a very tough spot here.

“There’s an interplay between the two biggest superpowers. It’s maybe an emerging cold war of sorts. And the Americans, of course, know that we are a rule of law country, and they’ve put us between the unstoppable force and the immovable object.”

Volpe said that the U.S. typically sought international trade expansion in the past, but U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has instead been forcing Canada to choose between the rest of the world and the American market.

“We’re not stupid — 75 per cent of the opportunity will always be tied geographically to the Americans, and I think our industry has done very well serving the American market,” he said.

In the meantime, Ong said, Canada should avoid making drastic moves or acting out of panic.

“If the Chinese authorities were to arrest a third Canadian, then I would start to panic,” she said.

Ong said she expects to see the dispute resolved in the next six months, allowing business and trade to get back on track.

“I say so because I think there’s also huge collateral damage on behalf of the Chinese authorities,” she said.  

“There’s costs on their legitimacy, costs on their reputation as an international trading power, just costs on the Chinese government as a whole. The longer they hold the two Canadians without any fair trial, without any fair charges, the greater the cost it is on their reputation.”

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Couple from Toronto buys dream home in Mushaboom

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MUSHABOOM – A couple who lived and raised a family in downtown Toronto developed a five-year plan in 2015 to purchase their dream home.

In September they moved into the home – located on Malagash Island in Mushaboom on Nova Scotia’s stunning Eastern Shore – that met and exceeded their best dreams for their retirement.

The Camerons, Bruce and Tanya, decided in 2019 they would explore the Maritimes to see what real estate was available to become their potential retirement home. In the spring of 2020, during a global pandemic, the real estate boom hit their city, and they were hearing the same for Nova Scotia. Our province was their first-choice for attaining their desire for an entirely different lifestyle – away from the busyness of the city.

“We had $300,000 to $350,000 as a home value in mind to buy. Our semi-detached located off Danforth in Toronto was priced at $850,000. We wanted to come out ahead, so we would be secure in retirement,” Tanya said.

Their century-old home had prime location near the subway and GO Transit Line for a great 13-minute commute downtown.

“We enjoyed our community,” explains Bruce “… we had great neighbours, young children around and street parties – lots of social activity.”

Bruce says, “Our agent suggested a starting quote of $899,000. We did not do any renovations and only some staging. Fifty couples went through and we received four significant offers. Six days later we sold – with zero conditions – and a price of over a million dollars. We just requested a closing of September 2020 to get the kids off to school – which we got.”

The couple got more than they had anticipated.

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Rabobank Announces Leadership Changes in U.S., Canadian Offices

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NEW YORK, Dec. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Rabobank, the leading global food and agribusiness bank, has appointed two of its top executives, Tamira Treffers-Herrera and Robert Sinescu, to become Co-Heads of North American Client Coverage, positioning the Bank for future growth in the region.

Treffers-Herrera has also assumed the role of Vice Chairperson and Head of the Atlanta office, where she additionally oversees Rabobank Mexico, which is led by Eduardo Palacios. Sinescu is the Head of the Chicago office, and also oversees Rabobank Canada, led by Marc Drouin, who was recently appointed as Canada’s General Manager.

Treffers-Herrera and Sinescu report to David Bassett, Head of Wholesale Banking North America, the Bank’s corporate and investment banking business for the region based in New York.

“Both Tamira and Robert have a demonstrated history of strong leadership, operational excellence and passion for our clients,” Bassett said. “Their broad experience and deep sector expertise will be invaluable in delivering dynamic results for clients while accelerating our growth trajectory in North America.”

Each office will have an even greater focus on key Food & Agribusiness sectors and clients: The Chicago office will drive growth in sectors including Dairy, Farm Inputs and Grains & Oilseeds, which are also key areas of focus for the Canada office. The Atlanta office will focus heavily on sectors such as Animal Protein, Beverages, Sugar, and Supply Chains, which are important sectors in Mexico as well.

“Rabobank is fully committed to our clients throughout North America, and we believe our new sector-focused coverage will improve our ability to provide knowledge-based, value-added solutions that benefit our clients,” Bassett said.

Treffers-Herrera was most recently based in London as CEO of Rabobank’s European Region from 2016-2020, where she took the organization through Brexit. Prior to that, she worked in the Atlanta office from 2002-2016. During her tenure in Atlanta, Treffers-Herrera served as Global Sector Head – Consumer Food & Beverages, and prior to that she was a senior banker for a portfolio of large beverage and consumer foods clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kentucky, a Master of Arts from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce and has studied at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Harvard Business School.

Sinescu has been with Rabobank for over 21 years and was previously General Manager of Rabobank Canada, where he oversaw all operations, business development, commercial strategy and relationships with regulators. In addition, he continues to serve as CEO of Rabo Securities Canada Inc. Prior to Canada, he was a senior banker, Head of Corporate Banking, European Sector Head for Sugar, and a member of the Management Team for Rabobank France. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from the Bucharest School of Business, a Master of Business Administration & Management and a Master of Science in Banking and Corporate Finance from Sorbonne University in Paris, and has studied at Brown University.

Drouin has worked with Rabobank’s Canadian team for more than nine years and most recently served as a senior banker, Head of Rabobank Canada’s AgVendor Program and a member of Rabobank Canada’s Management Team. He brings extensive wholesale banking experience within the Dairy, G&O, CPG and Supply Chain sectors. Drouin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University and a Master of Business Administration in International Finance, Marketing and Management from the Schulich School of Business at York University.

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Real Estate

Greybrook Realty Partners & Marlin Spring Brand Jointly Owned Asset Manager – Greyspring Apartments

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TORONTO, Dec. 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Greybrook Realty Partners and Marlin Spring are pleased to announce the new branding of their jointly owned investment and asset management firm, Greyspring Apartments. With a portfolio of more than 2,000 units and CAD$375 million in assets under management, Greyspring Apartments is focused on the acquisition and repositioning of multi-family assets throughout Canada.

The new name and branding is an important step in Greyspring’s evolution as an independent operating business. Formed in 2018 by long standing-partners Marlin Spring and Greybrook Realty Partners, Greyspring Apartments was established with the goal of building a leading asset management firm with a robust portfolio of residential rental real estate assets in primary and secondary markets across Canada.

Greyspring’s talented team of real estate, asset management and finance professionals is overseen and guided by the Management Board, whose members include Benjamin Bakst, CEO, Marlin Spring; Elliot Kazarnovksy, CFO, Marlin Spring; Sasha Cucuz, CEO, Greybrook Securities Inc.; Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Chris Salapoutis, President & COO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Ashi Mathur, President, Marlin Spring; and Karl Brady. In addition to his role on the Management Board, Karl Brady leads Greyspring Apartments as its President. 

“We are pleased to announce the official name and branding of a business we formed with our partners at Marlin Spring a few years ago,” said Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners. “Greyspring has been diligently focused on the execution of strategic value-add programs across its portfolio that are improving the quality of housing for tenants and overall asset values. For Greybrook investors, expanding from our core business in real estate development to the value-add space through Greyspring, has allowed us to provide our clients with investment opportunities that diversify their real estate investment portfolios.”

“Marlin Spring and Greybrook have partnered on many residential real estate projects in recent years,” said Benjamin Bakst, CEO and Cofounder, Marlin Spring. “To a great extent, Greyspring illustrates our approach to partnerships. We believe in, and strive for, responsible growth through deepening our relationships with our trusted partners. With Greyspring, we’ve formalized our focus on providing better and more affordable living experiences for Canadians. This vision aligns with our mission to deliver exceptional real estate value to all our stakeholders with an uncompromising adherence to our core values.”

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