Sunday, April 13, 2008
Tomorrow (Monday, April 14) is another one of those Basi-Virk / BC Rail pre-trial hearing days. Not until the hearing is over, will we hear who attends in Courtroom 54, or 65, or wherever (listings should be in the Law Courts lobby and online if you click on Van Court - Direct in left column). I hope Robin Mathews will be able to attend and report. Perhaps Gary E., too. Bill Tieleman should have his blog up by the end of the day. Meantime, it's Sunday morning, and as we wait, I'd like to know your opinion of the ethical climate surrounding business, government, and the public interest in British Columbia and Ottawa.
What do you think of MDA in Vancouver making quiet plans to go into real estate? Did you even hear about this, before this world-renowned Space facility was almost sold? At a price of $1.325 Billion. Yes, Billion. More than "we" got for Canada's 3rd largest railway.
Should the public get a say in the disposal of any publicly-funded enterprise? Should we be told when the idea is first considered, why it's being considered, what benefits and what losses it will bring -- which, in the case of MDA, is not simply an economic loss but also a national defence and security loss. Maybe we should've been told about the sale of BCRail, too; but that's still secret. Is it wise, is it smart to let go of a leading space technology or should it be kept in Canada for Canadian benefit, and Canadian protection?
When public funds end up in corporate pockets, does that say something about the ethical climate we live in? Does it say something about the ethical climate that Dave Basi, Bobby Virk, and Aneal Basi lived and worked in? And do you think they alone should be held responsible for that?
- BC Mary.
SPACE TECHNOLOGY AND THE REAL ESTATE FACTOR
" ... MDA was planning to get out of the space sector and focus on its growing real estate information business. It had hoped to use the cash from the sale to accelerate its acquisition strategy, particularly in the U.S. which has been hard hit by the sub-prime mortgage debacle." Remember that recent huge transfer of BC Tree Farm Licences now being offered up as real estate? - BC Mary.
MDA reeling after space-division sale rejected
Vancouver Sun - Saturday, April 12, 2008
MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates is maintaining a stoic silence in the wake of Ottawa's rejection this week of the proposed sale of its space division to the U.S. company Alliant Techsystems (ATK).
But behind the scenes the lobbying is intense, and questions are piling up as investors speculate on what the company will do now that its plans to divest itself of a low-growth business have been stymied.
The company also faces questions from market regulators who want to know if the company released the information in a timely fashion.
What was presented to shareholders by CEO Daniel Friedmann in January as a boon for the company has turned into a political nightmare, with the Richmond headquarters declining requests for interviews while in Ottawa an MDA consultant is lobbying furiously to put forward proponents of the deal.
"I think Mr. Friedmann can be questioning whether or not he can stay as CEO of the company," said Michael Byers, Canada Research Chair in global politics and international law at the University of B.C. and one of the voices who opposed the sale. "It strikes me as a gamble that has blown up in his face.
"Also, this is the person who was assuring investors back in January that approval was pretty much assured."
Among calls to the company in the wake of the news Thursday that Industry Minister Jim Prentice had told ATK in a letter that the "investment is not likely to be of net benefit to Canada" was one from Market Regulation Services, which monitors and administers the Toronto Stock Exchange's continuous disclosure policy for the TSX.
"We have no idea whether or not the company made a timely disclosure," said Mike Prior, director of market surveillance. "We do know they eventually made some disclosure after we discussed it with them."
Prior said whether or not the disclosure was timely depends on when MDA learned of Prentice's letter, which was dated April 8. MDA released a brief statement on April 10 along with a copy of the letter.
Prior said the matter will be referred to the TSX, and if it is determined there was a serious breach it could be referred to the relevant securities regulators, which he said in MDA's case would be the BC Securities Commission.
However, he pointed out it is too early to determine when MDA knew about the potential block to the sale.
"We need a lot more information," he said.
On Friday, Prentice only confirmed his earlier message that the Canadian government would nix the $1.325-billion deal, in speaking to an audience at the Canadian Space Agency headquarters in Longueuil, Que.
"We will not accept a loss of jurisdictional control to another party or another country," he said.
ATK has until May 8 to argue its case with Ottawa. While MDA is keeping mum, its representative in Ottawa, Gord McIntosh, was emailing media a copy of an ad that is to appear Monday in Ottawa's Hill Times, an ad he said was placed and paid for by employee union locals and staff associations.
Prentice's decision has been lauded by the Canadian Auto Workers national president Buzz Hargrove, but McIntosh said that view is not shared by MDA employees who are members of the union.
"The way we understand it, CAW nationally opposed the deal. That's fair enough, but the locals didn't," he said.
Meanwhile, the market has cooled on MDA, with analysts downgrading the stock on Friday.
Steven Li at Raymond James downgraded the company to "market perform" from "outperform", with a six- to 12-month price target of $45 a share.
Paul Bradley, an analyst at Fraser Mackenzie, said Prentice's move puts MDA in "a bit of an invidious position."
"It is sitting on the sidelines in this particular process," he said. "The Investment Act process is really between the acquirer, ATK, and the Canadian government.
"MDA is sitting on one side, neither able to influence events nor in the direct flow of conversation."
Bradley said the decision is bad news for investors, "because the whole point of this was to sell a part of the business which the company viewed as essentially having relatively low growth prospects, to realize a very good price, and to direct that into the area of high growth."
Ottawa's rejection leaves MDA holding a division it clearly doesn't want.
"That leads them right back to where they were before, but with everybody in the space business understanding this is a business that senior management and shareholders were quite willing to get rid of," said Bradley.
MDA was planning to get out of the space sector and focus on its growing real estate information business. It had hoped to use the cash from the sale to accelerate its acquisition strategy, particularly in the U.S. which has been hard hit by the sub-prime mortgage debacle.
About 1,900 of the company's 3,000 employees were to move to Alliant, and of the 700 to 800 employees in B.C., 100 were going to stay with MDA but in new premises since Alliant was to take over MDA's building.
Noted in passing, a public invitation from Dogwood Initiative concerning Tree Farm Lands near Victoria, once under the strict control of the Ministry of Lands and Forests, and now considered to be real estate for sale unless the public protests are heard:
Concerned citizens are invited to join a group which plans to meet at tomorrow Monday April 14 at 12:00 noon at the office of Ida Chong, Minister of Community Services, #218 - 2186 Oak Bay Avenue, to let the Minister know it is vitally important that she immediately approve the CRD's progressive bylaws, regarding the downzoning of beloved lands north of Sooke and surrounding Jordan River.
Dogwood Initiative also asks that concerned citizens write e.mails and/or letters to:
and cc. Forest Minister Rich Coleman at firstname.lastname@example.org
and Transportation minister Kevin Falcon at email@example.com.
Mention the bylaw numbers in your letter: 3495, 3500 and 3474.
Seems like a good idea: let the government ministries know how you feel about these forest lands which once supported thousands of workers in a vital B.C. industry ... and which still could continue doing so. - BC Mary.
The dozens of lost opportunities for those in power to stop the sell-off of Canadian prosperity, real productive jobs and sovereignty is a blight on our history, a drag on our economy, a slight to out self-confidence and a danger to the future of this nation.
It's long past time. One only hopes this is the start of a change - God knows we need one.
CEO Daniel Friedmann’s pathetic attempt to assuage the anger at his company’s cavalier attitude to the squandering of some $400 millions on R&D and other tax breaks for his company as ‘advance payment’ for the next 20 years of Radarsat data was the final straw for me.
He should resign in shame.
Though the gradual loss of control over Canadian resources and independence from the Monster to the South has been an bi-partisan affair the last few decades as pointed out by Mr. West above, the Tories (or those who pretend to be Tories) do take it to the ultra extreme.
It was Dief the Chief, of course, who turned Canada from a leader in jet fighter technology to a customer for McConnell - Douglas and Lockheed & Martin when he scrubbed the Avro Aero. Not even Tony "Bush's Poodle" Blair could match the obsequiousness of Brian Mulroney when he was allowed into the same room as his idol Ronnie Raygun. Now we have Stephen Harper's all out effort to become number one bum boy to America and all their schoolyard scraps - except for this almost shocking (and hopefully permanent and real) cancellation of the MDA sale.
I hear on the news this morning that China (who isn't a contiguous Arctic nation) has a new found interest in possible energy resources the Arctic may hold. Could the Tories be postponing the sale of the premier means of surveillance of the Arctic to allow for a higher bid from other "interested parties?" Or are they amazingly acting in the interests of Canada - only time will tell and only if the Not So Little Stephen gets his coveted majority government will his genuine agenda become clear.
Personally I don't have that much curiosity about his agenda to wish for a PsuedoTory majority just to be sure. It's clear to me from the degree of one man rule and imposition of religious values on secular society that he has managed with a minority that I don't need to see the "Full Monty!"
Pope and Talbot which has ruled the local roost lately(timberlands around the Arrow Lakes) has thrown in the towel and is trying to unload the logging/milling operations to Inter-For and the primo water front lands are slated for recreational development if they can get away with their sale.
Interestingly, however successful P and T is in converting assets (partly belonging by rights to the people of BC and the local area) into cash - the very last in line to share in that cash will be the local loggers and logging contractors who are owed hundreds of thousands of dollars wages and payment for logs delivered. These are local people who will likely loose their trucks, yarders, loaders and perhaps even the family home, if they had to use that as collateral to buy equipment. Meanwhile, don't shed any tears for the bankers, lenders or Wall Street types, who will all get their share first of any proceeds from the gutting of P & T.
Who knows, maybe a Wall Street broker can use his fees from P & T's clearance sale to buy hisself a nice waterfront lot on the Arrow Lakes, but I would advise him to perhaps make up a story about who he is and where he's from when he is here on vacation, if you know what I mean. He is unlikely to be that popular if the locals know how he bought his vacation home, essentially with their money while they were losing their own home.
Me too! The "rm" means Room Number. But alas, the all-seeing, all-knowing BC Mary [cue the hysterical laughter] is equally baffled, week by month by year, as to what such things as "RBG" mean.
I understand there's a glossary someplace deep inside the Court listings but haven't found it yet.
Kootcoot knows; also Gary E. Maybe they'll see this and send help in the nick of time ... although, oops, I see by the clock that today's hearing has already started.
Well, maybe by May 5 when the BIG session is supposed to begin.
HARPER PROMISES CRACKDOWN ON CAR THEFT AND CHOP SHOPS
Vancouver Sun Monday Online
Too bizarre. Harper wants to take dead aim at organized auto theft rings. Rumour has it that they wanted to do this announcement with ICBC however, for some reason eight weeks ago it was changed to Manitoba Public Insurance. Something about a RCMP criminal investigation into alleged VIN histories being hidden and bid rigging etc, etc,etc
Anon above-I believe RBG stands for "Really Big Guffaw"
Good one, Express Collision Shop. ;-) Makes sense to me.
While googling, in the archives of this blog actually, I found previous mention of a pre-trial hearing to be held in courtroom RBG - so I think it's a courtroom.