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The Boardroom Beverly Behan


Top Stories

Decisions! Decisions!

Issuers face many challenges, but key rulings by Canada’s highest courts often have the biggest impact on public company affairs. Here, in a Listed exclusive, we present the six most important court decisions for 2014-15
By Jim Middlemiss
July 29th, 2015

The environment in which publicly traded companies operate is shaped by everything from the competitive landscape to rules and regulations set by governments. However, often it is court rulings that have the final say on the impact of corporate actions … Continue reading

Effective board and director evaluations

Board and director evaluations used to be mostly about compliance. Today they’re about making good boards better while improving the credibility of board and director performance management. Here, an expanded recap of emerging trends and tactics
By Beverly Behan
July 27th, 2015

Now that directors have had more than a decade of experience with board evaluations, their objectives for the exercise have begun to shift. Rather than seeking a rote compliance objective, increasingly board chairs and nominating/governance committee chairs want to use … Continue reading

The stock heard ’round the world

Shopify’s blockbuster spring IPO struck a resounding chord for the quiet revival in Canadian tech
By John Greenwood
July 25th, 2015

An initial public offering is a kind of coming-out party, the moment when the rest of the world decides if it likes your business. As a chief executive you pray that the market sees the same things in your company … Continue reading

Chasing prosperity? Or votes?

Why is a balanced federal budget like a picnic? Because neither is responsible for what their promoters promise—be it economic well-being or a sunny, summer day
By Ian McGugan
July 24th, 2015

  Balanced budgets are what pass for sexy among a certain swath of the electorate—most notably the part that votes Conservative. Hence it’s no big surprise that the federal Tories pulled out all stops this spring to announce their first … Continue reading

Whose company is it, anyway?

In the U.S., it’s been a big year for proxy access—a process allowing shareholders to nominate directors on equal terms with the board and CEO. Now the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance and its members want to make it the norm here
By Robert Thompson
July 24th, 2015

Stephen Erlichman says he doesn’t understand the controversy, but he fully recognizes it is there nonetheless. In May, the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance, a lobby group that Erlichman leads as executive director, published a report [pdf] insisting shareholders should … Continue reading

Low rate rendezvous

Outside the U.S., interest rates are trending down, not up. For the Bank of Canada, the goal is a lower dollar that boosts exports. But if you’re counting on that for your business, here are a few thoughts to keep in mind
By Ian McGugan
May 15th, 2015

Beware falling interest rates. They’re evidence of how desperately most countries want to goose their underperforming economies and mark down their currencies. Since the oil price crash last year, roughly two dozen central banks around the world have eased back … Continue reading

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Ticker

Whose company is it, anyway?

In the U.S., it’s been a big year for proxy access—a process allowing shareholders to nominate directors on equal terms with the board and CEO. Now the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance and its members want to make it the norm here
By Robert Thompson
July 24th, 2015

Stephen Erlichman says he doesn’t understand the controversy, but he fully recognizes it is there nonetheless. In May, the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance, a lobby group that Erlichman leads as executive director, published a report [pdf] insisting shareholders should … Continue reading

Pushing the envelope

Another annual meeting, another say-on-pay setback for the board of Barrick Gold. But this time, unlike 2013, it’s not the only big target for dissatisfied institutional funds
By Paul Brent
May 14th, 2015

For long-time shareholders of Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX), this spring’s annual meeting likely had a bizarre feeling of déjà vu to it. The question now is, how will the aftermath compare? Yes, company founder and chairman Peter Munk is one … Continue reading

Mining slump now an endurance test

The rough ride continues for commodities and the companies that mine them. Strong firms are still coping, but the casualty rate is on the rise
By Jim Middlemiss
February 27th, 2015

From energy to interest rates, there haven’t been a lot of bright spots in the economy in 2015. But leave it to metals and mining, a sector now almost four years removed from the dizzying heights of its last cyclical … Continue reading

Oil prices: each day brings more drama

Contained caution in Canadian energy and economic circles has given way to increasing alarm as oil prices—off about 40% from June through November—head towards New Year's in a nose dive
By Paul Brent
December 19th, 2014

The last few months have been a tough time for peak oil doomsayers, OPEC oil sheiks, petroleum executives as well as finance ministers from Edmonton to Ottawa and as far east as St. John’s. Their common and constant migraine, of … Continue reading

M&A rules get an overhaul

The Canadian Securities Administrators, with unanimous provincial support, is proposing new rules on takeover bids. Target boards and shareholders will get more leverage, bidders will need to rethink strategy
By John Greenwood
October 30th, 2014

Big changes often start imperceptibly until suddenly they become fact, part of the landscape. That’s a good description for the Canadian Securities Administrators’ recently proposed changes to regulations on takeover bids and shareholder rights plans which, assuming they’re adopted, will … Continue reading

Federal securities regulator in view

Draft legislation paves way for 2015 implementation, while Ottawa works to get more provinces onside
October 30th, 2014

By next fall, if the federal government continues on its present course, the proposed Cooperative Capital Markets regulatory system will be up and running—taking the country partway to meeting the Conservative government’s eight-year-old effort to create a single national securities … Continue reading

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Views

Social bonds: an impact opportunity?

Social impact bonds, an emerging tool in the world of impact investing, are gaining a foothold in Canada. Companies seeking financial return and social impact should pay attention
By Robert Olsen
July 29th, 2015

Impact investing is an investment approach, as defined by the Global Impact Investing Network, that intentionally seeks to create both financial return and positive social impact and actively measures the achievement of both. The expected financial return can range from … Continue reading

All quiet? Keep it that way

Say-on-pay support was up this year and proxy advisers had fewer beefs. Rather than be complacent, boards should build on this goodwill by stepping up shareholder communications and engagement
By Ken Hugessen
July 29th, 2015

Anyone reading the headlines during the 2015 proxy season might think recent efforts to reform executive compensation in Canada have suddenly fallen off the rails with this year’s multiple say-on-pay failures. But judging by shareholder votes, we see that the … Continue reading

Integrity? The buck stops at the board

Companies are quick to blame “rogue employees” when they experience an ethical failure within. But employees merely reflect a company’s true and actual culture, internal controls and practices—all of which point right back to the board
By Richard Leblanc
July 28th, 2015

There is not an excuse I have not heard for ethical failure. But when I investigate a company after allegations of fraud, corruption or workplace wrongdoing, I almost always find a complacent, captured or entrenched board that did not take … Continue reading

Same goals, opposing timelines

Mitigation and response strategies are inseparable partners in enterprise risk management. But their design and execution are in no way alike
By John Caldwell
July 28th, 2015

Enterprises face no shortages of risks everyday, be they external or self-inflicted. An effective enterprise risk management system has both mitigation and response strategies designed to lesson the impact of any material adverse exposure. This column provides a closer look … Continue reading

This should only hurt a bit

There’s no longer any argument about carbon pricing: it’s here. The challenge for companies now is to be active stakeholders in the transition process while adapting their own operations to keep pace
By Sandra Odendahl
July 28th, 2015

For too long, the earth’s atmosphere has been used a free waste disposal site by, well, everybody. The types of waste and their impacts are myriad, but as we all know there is deep concern about the emission of greenhouse … Continue reading

Why there are virtually no virtual AGMs

Some U.S. companies now have online-only annual meetings, and our regulatory framework allows for it, but shareholder opposition is vocal
By Chaya Cooperberg
July 28th, 2015

When Hewlett-Packard held its first virtual-only annual meeting in March, it did so to give more shareholders the opportunity to participate. What it got in return was vocal shareholder opposition. Accessed online via video webcast, the meeting was technically well … Continue reading

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Features

Decisions! Decisions!

Issuers face many challenges, but key rulings by Canada’s highest courts often have the biggest impact on public company affairs. Here, in a Listed exclusive, we present the six most important court decisions for 2014-15
By Jim Middlemiss
July 29th, 2015

The environment in which publicly traded companies operate is shaped by everything from the competitive landscape to rules and regulations set by governments. However, often it is court rulings that have the final say on the impact of corporate actions … Continue reading

The stock heard ’round the world

Shopify’s blockbuster spring IPO struck a resounding chord for the quiet revival in Canadian tech
By John Greenwood
July 25th, 2015

An initial public offering is a kind of coming-out party, the moment when the rest of the world decides if it likes your business. As a chief executive you pray that the market sees the same things in your company … Continue reading

Payback

What happens when a Canadian micro-junior with a two-person staff wins a US$100-million international arbitration award against the government of Mongolia for the unlawful seizure of its mine? It sets out to collect it, of course
By John Greenwood
May 13th, 2015

Grant Edey was getting set to trek into town from his home on the outskirts of Toronto when the e-mail landed in his inbox. It was day one of the annual Prospectors and Developers Association’s PDAC conference, the premier North … Continue reading

No director left behind

Most boards recognize that director education and development is essential and ongoing. But many still struggle with the complicated challenge of packaging and delivering useful, relevant, timely training for rookies and veterans alike
By Jim Middlemiss
May 13th, 2015

Ask Gwyn Morgan what he thinks about continuing education programs for company directors and the corporate titan has mixed feelings. On one hand, Morgan, the former CEO and president of Encana Corp. (TSX:ECA), says continuing education programs are good at … Continue reading

Mining’s last, best good news story

Profits in the mining sector? Earnings growth? They exist. Yes, Silver Wheaton has some important tests ahead—but every day is still a good day for the king of the stream
By Robert Thompson
February 27th, 2015

“Please stay tuned, we should have a very good fourth quarter.” Randy Smallwood signs off Silver Wheaton Corp.’s (TSX:SLW) most recent quarterly conference call with investment analysts from the major banks and brokerages, in mid-November, sounding eager and bullish. As … Continue reading

Ripples on the land

In a first-ever judgment last June, the Supreme Court of Canada awarded the Tsilhqot’in First Nation aboriginal title to 1,700 square kilometres of territory in the B.C. interior. What does it mean for mining and resource development in Canada?
By Kerry Banks
February 27th, 2015

The long-awaited decision came down on June 26, 2014. By a unanimous 8-0 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada granted declaration of aboriginal title to more than 1,700 square kilometres of land in British Columbia’s interior to the Tsilhqot’in (chil-ko-teen) … Continue reading

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The Director's Chair

Rick George: Give people the tools and cut them loose

In The Director’s Chair with David W. Anderson: As a former CEO and a boardroom veteran, Rick George knows that fundamentals count—and that tough questions can have simple answers
June 5th, 2014

If the oilsands have a face, it belongs to Richard “Rick” George, who stepped down as CEO of Suncor Energy Inc. in 2012, after 21 years in office. But that’s only one narrative line in George’s story. He’s enjoyed a … Continue reading

William Etherington: Boards’ last blind spots: themselves

In The Director’s Chair with David W. Anderson: Recruitment may be professionalized, and diversity is taking hold, but when it comes to accountability, William Etherington says boards still have a ways to go
April 21st, 2014

As a director and now chairman of the board at Celestica Inc., where he’s sat since 2001, William Etherington personifies continuity of leadership. Celestica itself started as a spinoff from IBM Canada, where Etherington was CEO for a number of … Continue reading

Eira Thomas: Engage early and often

In The Director’s Chair with David W. Anderson: Eira Thomas, storied geologist turned founder, director, CEO and chair, says sharp stakeholder relations and smart governance are making winners in mining today
February 26th, 2014

Eira Thomas burst onto the Canadian mining scene in the 1990s, leading the Aber Resources Ltd. field exploration team that discovered the Diavik diamond project pipes in the Northwest Territories. By the time Diavik went into production in 2003, as … Continue reading

John Manley: The new multi-stakeholder reality

In The Director’s Chair with David W. Anderson: As a former inner-circle federal cabinet minister, John Manley knows how government makes decisions. Similar thinking, he says, is needed in the corporate world
December 16th, 2013

John Manley, deputy prime minister under Jean Chrétien, says he’s learned a lot in the 10 years he’s been working on corporate boards since leaving politics— particularly in his time as a director at Canadian Pacific Railway prior to the … Continue reading

Gary Colter: Setting the bar high—where it belongs

In The Director’s Chair with David W. Anderson: No matter what the business, director Gary Colter says there’s no excuse for boards to cling to dated, inefficient and ineffective modes of governance
September 16th, 2013

As a member of the dissident slate of directors that shareholders voted into power in the gripping Canadian Pacific Railway proxy battle of 2012, Gary Colter has had a front row seat for recent debates over directors’ duties and effective … Continue reading

Robert Monks: It’s broke, let’s fix it

In The Director’s Chair with David W. Anderson: Shareholder activist and avowed capitalist Robert Monks doesn’t have it in for senior corporate managers—just the system that gives them all the power and too much pay
June 20th, 2013

If you read Robert Monks’ bio—founder of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), author of eight books, and a chair and director many times over—your first inclination is to say that’s résumé enough for two. Yet the substance of his work—shareholder and … Continue reading

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Handbook

Effective board and director evaluations

Board and director evaluations used to be mostly about compliance. Today they’re about making good boards better while improving the credibility of board and director performance management. Here, an expanded recap of emerging trends and tactics
By Beverly Behan
July 27th, 2015

Now that directors have had more than a decade of experience with board evaluations, their objectives for the exercise have begun to shift. Rather than seeking a rote compliance objective, increasingly board chairs and nominating/governance committee chairs want to use … Continue reading

In search of awareness

Clear thinking, better decision making, improved leadership skills, greater self-awareness—if mindfulness training helps you get there, what director or senior executive doesn’t want more of that?
By Paul Brent
July 26th, 2015

It got its start at Google, it involves meditation and it is really, really trendy. If those clues don’t immediately conjure up images of cross-legged coworkers grounding themselves in meditation and mindfulness training, don’t feel too out of touch. The … Continue reading

Whistleblower rewards, compliance risk

The Ontario Securities Commission plans to start paying whistleblowers for tips about securities violations. Even companies with strong internal systems need to recognize the change
By Ken Mark
May 13th, 2015

The deadline for comments has passed. After the Ontario Securities Commission reviews the responses to its recent Staff Consultation Paper 15-401, Proposed Framework for an OSC Whistleblower Program, the next step is that program’s formal unveiling—and with it, challenges for … Continue reading

The No. 1 boardroom issue for 2015

Activists realized board composition was a key factor in company performance some time ago. Now it’s also moving to the forefront of voting concerns for ordinary shareholders. Translation: either your board addresses it or others will
By Beverly Behan
May 13th, 2015

Shareholder activists have long found success in running slates of candidates whose expertise and backgrounds appeared stronger and more relevant than those of the incumbent board members; CP Rail is a classic example. But now, board composition is becoming a … Continue reading

The big reveal

Ottawa’s new Transparency Measures Act doesn’t just open the window on payments by miners and other resources companies to domestic and foreign governments, it puts them under lights
By Brenda Bouw
February 27th, 2015

Mining companies and other resource developers in Canada have an added priority for 2015: preparing for a new federal law expected to take effect later this year that requires them to open their books on payments made to governments around … Continue reading

Is your barrel half empty or half full?

Everybody’s talking about the impact of plunging oil prices on petro regions and energy producers—but what about the mining sector? Our correspondent sees a range of consequences, many of them good
By Ian McGugan
February 27th, 2015

The unexpected and still largely unexplained plunge in the price of oil is enough to throw a scare into any commodity producer. When the world’s most vital and heavily traded raw material can lose half its value in six months—for … Continue reading

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Economy

Chasing prosperity? Or votes?

Why is a balanced federal budget like a picnic? Because neither is responsible for what their promoters promise—be it economic well-being or a sunny, summer day
By Ian McGugan
July 24th, 2015

  Balanced budgets are what pass for sexy among a certain swath of the electorate—most notably the part that votes Conservative. Hence it’s no big surprise that the federal Tories pulled out all stops this spring to announce their first … Continue reading

Low rate rendezvous

Outside the U.S., interest rates are trending down, not up. For the Bank of Canada, the goal is a lower dollar that boosts exports. But if you’re counting on that for your business, here are a few thoughts to keep in mind
By Ian McGugan
May 15th, 2015

Beware falling interest rates. They’re evidence of how desperately most countries want to goose their underperforming economies and mark down their currencies. Since the oil price crash last year, roughly two dozen central banks around the world have eased back … Continue reading

Is your barrel half empty or half full?

Everybody’s talking about the impact of plunging oil prices on petro regions and energy producers—but what about the mining sector? Our correspondent sees a range of consequences, many of them good
By Ian McGugan
February 27th, 2015

The unexpected and still largely unexplained plunge in the price of oil is enough to throw a scare into any commodity producer. When the world’s most vital and heavily traded raw material can lose half its value in six months—for … Continue reading

Helping Europe at our expense?

The timing of Canada’s free trade deal with Europe—as euro zone economies continue to struggle—couldn’t be worse. Some Canadian companies may benefit, but the deal’s likely winners will be low-priced European competitors expanding here
By Ian McGugan
December 18th, 2014

Europe’s economic crisis is over—isn’t it? The headlines have calmed down, bond markets are tranquil, a Greek default no longer hangs over the global economy. It’s enough to make a casual observer conclude that the worst is past. Look closer, … Continue reading

Canada: the third amigo

Mexico’s surging manufacturing sector and growing economy mean its influence in NAFTA will soon supersede our own. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing
By Ian McGugan
October 30th, 2014

Welcome, economics fans, to the 2014 version of Name that Country. Today’s clue: This nation, which shares a border with the United States, has large oil and gas reserves, is headed by a pro-business leader intent on shaking up the … Continue reading

Divided we stand

Western Canada’s place as the country’s economic engine isn’t changing anytime soon. That puts the onus on policy makers to take a new look at their priorities—for all Canadians’ sake
By Ian McGugan
August 24th, 2014

Nearly 70 years ago, a novel by Hugh MacLennan captured the struggle that then weighed on many Canadian minds. Two Solitudes told the story of a young writer torn between French and English cultures. If that quintessentially Canadian novel were … Continue reading

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Insider

Leading in

Insider: Linda Hasenfratz
July 24th, 2015

Who Linda Hasenfratz, chief executive officer and a director of Linamar Corp. (TSX:LNR) of Guelph, Ont., a position she has held since 2002. Linamar, ranked 31st among the top 100 automotive parts suppliers in North America, also has operations in … Continue reading

Who is seeing i2i?

Insider: Stephen Davis
May 12th, 2015

Who Stephen Davis, associate director of the Harvard Law School Programs on Corporate Governance and Institutional Investors and a senior fellow at the Program on Corporate Governance. Davis is also a nonresident senior fellow in governance at the Brookings Institution … Continue reading

Nickeled and primed

Insider: David Pathe
February 26th, 2015

Who David Pathe, president and CEO, Sherritt International Corp. (TSX:S), a major Canadian producer of nickel and oil with operations in Western Canada, Madagascar and, most notably, Cuba, where it has mining, energy and power interests. Involvement Pathe has been … Continue reading

A force in finance

Insider: Steve Hudson
December 16th, 2014

Who Steve Hudson, CEO and chairman of Element Financial Corp. (TSX:EFN) of Toronto, which he took public in 2011 to finance the acquisition of receivables in key verticals including commercial and vendor financing, rail, aviation and fleet management. Element has … Continue reading

A deeper bench

Insider: Mark Healy
October 30th, 2014

Who Mark Healy, president and CEO, CST Trust Co. (CST) and American Stock Transfer & Trust Co. (AST), part of the Australian-based Link Group. Involvement This spring, AST bought D.F. King & Co. Inc., of New York, one of the … Continue reading

A CEO entrance interview

Insider: Ravi Saligram
August 27th, 2014

  Who Ravi Saligram, chief executive officer and director of Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers Inc. (TSX:RBA), the world’s largest industrial auctioneer, based in Burnaby, B.C., with operations in 25 countries and 44 auction sites worldwide, and 2013 revenue of $467 million. … Continue reading

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