North America

Ontario's post-secondary minister says an investigator probing the financial problems at Laurentian University will issue a final report in six to eight weeks, the CBC reported. The northern Ontario school filed for creditor protection earlier this month amid what it called "unprecedented" challenges after a decade of financial strain. The Sault Ste. Marie MPP and Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, Ross Romano, says the report will help the government decide next steps when it comes to the university.

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Seadrill Ltd, the rig operator controlled by billionaire John Fredriksen, filed for bankruptcy protection for its Asian units after the economic downturn triggered by the coronavirus pandemic worsened a crisis in offshore oil drilling, Bloomberg News reported. The filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of Texas is the second within four years by the driller that was once the industry’s largest by market value. The filing covers Seadrill GCC Operations, Asia Offshore Drilling Ltd., Asia Offshore Rig 1 Ltd., Asia Offshore Rig 2 Ltd.

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Canadian insolvency filings hit a 20-year low last year as government financial support offset the shock and economic uncertainty caused by Covid-19, Advisor's Edge reported. The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy said on Friday that there were 99,244 consumer bankruptcies and proposals along with business bankruptcies in 2020, down 30% from the prior year.

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called for China to condemn the military coup in Myanmar and warned Beijing that Washington will work with its allies to hold the People’s Republic accountable for what he described as its efforts to threaten international stability particularly in the Taiwan Strait, CNBC.com reported. Blinken spoke with his counterpart Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi late Friday in the first conversation between senior U.S. and Chinese officials since President Joe Biden took office. The top U.S.
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Services companies in the U.S. and Asia gained ground in January, while a continued contraction in the eurozone threatened a double-dip recession, surveys of purchasing managers showed, the Wall Street Journal reported. The eurozone economy shrank in the final three months of last year amid high Covid-19 infection rates and related restrictions posed the risk of a double-dip recession. Surveys compiled by data firm IHS Markit released Wednesday showed the eurozone’s service sector fell to 45.0 from 46.4 in December.
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Laurentian University owes three Canadian banks C$91 million ($71 million), according to documents in a bankruptcy filing that one analyst says will be a test case for how the country’s schools deal with growing financial pressures, Bloomberg News reported. The Sudbury, Ontario-based university requested court protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act on Monday, citing widening deficits, declining enrollment and costs related to the pandemic.

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Mexico’s government plans to seek more than $500 million from Canadian miner First Majestic Silver Corp in what it says are owed taxes for artificially keeping its silver prices low over the past decade, two sources told Reuters. Audits dating back to 2010 show that the company owes about 11 billion pesos ($534.36 million), the sources said. So far, Mexico’s Tax Administration Service, or SAT, has sought 5.5 billion pesos ($267.18 million) in tax debt, with the remaining half of the total yet to enter into formal disputes, according to the sources.
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Mexico’s economy last year suffered its biggest annual contraction since the 1930s, although it recovered better than expected from the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic during the final quarter, preliminary data showed on Friday, Reuters reported. Gross domestic product in Latin America’s second-biggest economy tumbled by 8.5% last year in seasonally adjusted terms, according to the estimate issued by national statistics agency INEGI. The fall was slightly shallower than the consensus forecast in a Reuters poll for an 8.8% decline.
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This weekend, Seadrill, the John Fredriksen-controlled rig operator announced that a forbearance agreement with a series of creditors expired on Friday, Shipping Watch reported. The forbearance agreement was announced by Seadrill just before New Year. The deal was entered with a series of creditors and applied to 9 of the group's 12 senior secured facilities, said that the company at the time. The expiration of the deal means that Seadrill could now be facing default claims from creditors if the company fails to make interest payments, according to the latest update.
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The largest shareholder in high-end mall owner Macerich Co. sold its entire holding for nearly $500 million when the stock soared after being touted on Reddit, Bloomberg News reported. Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan sold 24.56 million shares on Wednesday at an average price of $20.25 a share, according to details in an amended 13D. The Canadian fund had owned 16.4% of the company, according to data complied by Bloomberg.

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