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On May 1, 2020, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) issued a news release, announcing local blanket orders (Blanket Orders) for market participants in connection with meetings delayed as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. This relief is in addition to the relief announced March 23, 2020, by the CSA with

Further to our earlier post discussing COVID-19 and Material Adverse Change (“MAC”) provisions in mergers and acquisitions agreements and the hearing held last week in connection with an application for the final order (“Final Order Application”) in respect of the proposed plan of arrangement (the “Arrangement”) involving Rifco Inc. (“Rifco”), an alternative auto financing company

Further to our earlier post discussing COVID-19 and Material Adverse Change (“MAC”) provisions in M&A Agreements that addressed the lack of relevant Canadian court decisions and the associated uncertainty in their interpretation, Canadian capital market participants are watching with keen interest the dispute between Rifco Inc. (“Rifco”), an alternative auto financing company that trades on

At the time of previous financial crises, the TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV) granted blanket relief to listed issuers from its $0.05 per share minimum pricing requirement for various share issuances. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with many TSXV issuers trading at less than $0.05, the TSXV issued a Bulletin on April 8, 2020 providing important relief (Temporary Relief) from certain requirements of the TSXV Corporate Finance Manual. In particular, the Temporary Relief removes in the specific cases set out below the TSXV’s $0.05 minimum price for share issuances by issuers whose “Market Price” is $0.05 or less, subject to a new minimum of $0.01, until September 30, 2020.

By way of background, a number of TSXV Policies, including Policy 4.1 Private Placements, incorporate the concepts of “Market Price” and “Discounted Market Price”. The terms are defined in TSXV Policy 1.1 Interpretation; “Market Price” is the last closing price of an issuer’s shares prior to the issuance of a news release or filing with the TSXV of Form 4A – Price Reservation Form for a share issuance, while “Discounted Market Price” is “Market Price” less maximum permitted discounts (for example, 25% if the closing price is up to $0.50), but subject in all cases to a minimum price per share of $0.05. This reflects a long-standing, fundamental rule of the TSXV – the TSXV does not permit shares to be issued from treasury at less than $0.05, so as to prevent excessive dilution.
Continue Reading Shades of Crises Past – The TSX Venture Exchange Provides Temporary Relief from the $0.05 Minimum Pricing Requirement

Timely Disclosure recently reported on the CSA’s previously announced and published local blanket orders (Blanket Orders) that provide a 45-day extension for periodic filings normally required to be made by market participants between March 23, 2020 and June 1, 2020. On April 3, 2020, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) released CSA Staff Notice 51-360 (Staff Notice) which includes useful guidance for market participants wishing to avail themselves of the relief provided by the Blanket Orders.

The following is a summary of certain of the guidance in the Staff Notice. It is important for issuers to review the local Blanket Orders in their jurisdiction. Issuers who intend to rely on the exemptions in the Blanket Orders should consider their applicable corporate statute, stock exchange requirements and other obligations to provide disclosure materials, including financial statements under any existing contractual obligations, as well as the events of default, covenants and other terms of any contracts including debt instruments. Issuers should also review their ongoing corporate finance activities when considering reliance on the Blanket Orders.


Continue Reading CSA Provides Guidance on Previously Announced Blanket Orders in Response to COVID-19

On March 30, 2020, in connection with its state of emergency declared on March 17, 2020 (Declared Emergency), the Ontario government issued an order (Order) under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (Ontario) to temporarily suspend and replace, among other things, certain provisions of the Business Corporations Act (Ontario) (

On March 7, 2017, 1891868 Alberta Ltd., a wholly-owned indirect subsidiary of Sprott Inc. (Sprott, and together with its wholly-owned subsidiaries, Sprott Group), filed an originating application (Application) in the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta (Court) for an order approving a proposed plan of arrangement (Arrangement) with Central Fund of Canada Limited (Target), Sprott Physical Gold and Silver Trust (to be formed and managed by Sprott Asset Management LP (Trust)), the holders of class A non-voting shares (Class A Shares) of the Target and, as applicable, the holders of common shares (Common Shares) of the Target pursuant to Section 193(2) of the Business Corporations Act (Alberta) (Act).  The Application has been scheduled to be heard by the Court on September 7, 2017.

The Application

The Application seeks an interim order for the calling and holding of a meeting of shareholders (Target Shareholders) of the Target to approve the Arrangement proposed by the Sprott Group.  It should be noted that applications for court orders approving arrangements are typically made by target companies.  Accordingly, this application, which is not supported by the Target, could be characterized as a “hostile” plan of arrangement.  At an application held in April, the Court agreed to set a date in September for the interim application.

According to the Sprott Group, there are a number of qualitative and quantitative benefits to the Target Shareholders which are anticipated to result from the Arrangement and the transactions contemplated thereby, including eliminating the dual-class share structure, continued exposure to the future growth of the Target’s portfolio of assets, the availability of a physical redemption feature, and the potential for the Class A Shares to trade at, near or above their net asset value (instead of at a discount to net asset value, which is currently the case).

According to the Target, the Application is one of numerous steps already taken by the Sprott Group to seek control of the Target. Among other measures taken, the Sprott Group has previously attempted to requisition a meeting of the Target to, among other things, elect a slate of directors (Requisition), commenced a derivative action against the Target and appealed to the Court of Appeal the Court’s finding that the Requisition was invalid.  All of these attempts were unsuccessful.

In this context, a take-over bid made directly to the holders of Common Shares and Class A Shares would likely be ineffective since, according to Sprott, at least 75% of the Common Shares are held by directors and officer of the Target and such persons are not expected to tender to the bid.


Continue Reading Hostile Plan of Arrangement Application to be Heard in Alberta 

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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.


Continue Reading Cross-Border Bond Offerings – Implications of a “distribution to the public” under the Canada Business Corporations Act

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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.


Continue Reading Total Energy’s Take-over Bid for Savanna Energy: Developments and Defensive Tactics

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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.


Continue Reading New Crowdfunding Prospectus Exemption in Alberta