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Economic Environment

The volume of securities purchased by foreign investors in Canada has been steadily increasing in recent years.  While equity securities account for the majority of the increase, debt securities still comprise most of the foreign investment in Canada.[1]  Of these debt securities, corporate bonds attracted the largest increase in investment in 2016 compared to 2015.[2]  The continued significance for Canadian issuers (Issuers) of foreign markets for raising capital emphasizes the importance of understanding the nature of cross-border debt securities offerings (Offerings) and, in particular, uncertainties in their technicalities which, if not properly traversed, can lead to increased costs for Issuers.

Overview of Offerings

Bonds can be offered by Issuers pursuant to a public offering under a prospectus or can be placed privately by way of a private placement, in which case Issuers may choose to prepare and distribute an offering memorandum to potential investors.  The method employed will vary depending on the Issuer’s target market and the extent to which the Issuer is known to participants in the capital markets.  Bonds, regardless of the type of Offering, are typically issued under the terms and conditions of a trust indenture which is entered into between the Issuer and an indenture trustee (Trustee).  The Trustee protects the interests of the Bondholders by enforcing the terms and conditions provided in the trust indenture.


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In December, the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) published its annual Corporate Finance Disclosure Report (Report). The ASC then hosted an information seminar (Seminar) on the Report’s findings and recommendations in Calgary, Alberta on January 11, 2017. Fasken Martineau was pleased to attend the Seminar with a view to advising our reporting issuer clients as to best disclosure practices.

The ASC chose to focus on commodity price impacts on continuous disclosure by reporting issuers, as opposed to the more typical practice of a broader-scope report. As such, the Report gave topical and important reviews, in that context, on the use of non-GAAP measures (NGMs) and forward-looking information, as well as impairment of assets under accounting standards. Most prominent among the continuous disclosure issues in the Report, however, was liquidity and capital resources information in management discussion and analysis disclosure.

We expect the ASC will be paying particular attention to fulsome and timely disclosure of liquidity and capital resources information in 2017, particularly in respect of plans to remedy working capital deficiencies, conditional borrowing limits, risk of breach of financial covenants, and impacts on production capacity maintenance following capital expenditure reductions and asset dispositions.


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Background

On November 23, 2016, Total Energy Services Inc. (Offeror) disclosed its intention to make an offer (Offer) to purchase all of the issued and outstanding common shares (Target Shares) of Savanna Energy Services Corp. (Target) for consideration consisting of common shares of the Offeror (Offeror Shares).

The Target responded in two press releases, dated November 24, 2016 and November 28, 2016, in which the Target indicated that any change of control on or before June 13, 2017 would result in all amounts (approximately $105 million) outstanding under a recently implemented term loan (Term Loan) becoming immediately due and payable plus a change of control fee in the amount of 3% of the $200 million commitment amount (approximately $6 million) (Loan Fee).

The Offeror filed its take-over bid circular (Bid Circular) outlining the Offer on December 9, 2016 and filed support agreements from significant shareholders of the Target representing approximately 43% of total number of issued and outstanding Target Shares.


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On October 31, 2016, the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) adopted Multilateral Instrument 45-108 Crowdfunding (MI 45-108) which will allow small or medium sized businesses (Target Businesses) to raise more capital through crowdfunding offerings across multiple jurisdictions in Canada than is possible under ASC Rule 45-517 Prospectus Exemption for Start-up Businesses (ASC Rule 45-517) which was adopted by the ASC on July 29, 2016.  Both MI 45-108 and ASC Rule 45-517 (collectively, the Growth Initiatives) provide Target Businesses with an exemption from prospectus requirements.  The Growth Initiatives are in place of proposed MI 45-109 Prospectus Exemption for Start-up Businesses published by the ASC and the Nunavut Securities Office.

The Growth Initiatives are aimed at addressing Target Businesses’ need for a cost effective and simple way to raise capital in a difficult economic environment by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people, commonly referred to as crowdfunding.  The Growth Initiatives offer different avenues that Target Businesses can use to overcome the hurdle of attracting investment without the high transactional costs of completing a prospectus offering.


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