MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (April, 2021)
Always grateful to get to “talk on TV”; this time, alongside Mark Warner and John Northcott for the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel. In a very busy news week, here’s an overview of the topics we discussed (along a planes, trains, and automobiles theme):
- In Breaking News, Air Canada and Air Transat call off their merger plans. What’s the back story and what could be next for these companies that are in an industry that has been hit hard by COVID19?
- Canada’s effort to build national capital markets regulator shuttered. As the only G7 country without a national regulator, what is the impact of this initiative failing to launch?
- President Joe Biden’s big infrastructure plan. As this $2 trillion, “a once in a generation investment in America” is announced, what does in mean for the US and Canada?
- Volkswagen’s April Fool’s miss. What’s the story on the Volkswagen of America’s purported name change to “Voltswagen” and how it went off the rails?
The Air Canada/Air Transat potential merger has been in the works for some time, well in advance of the days of COVID19. With European regulators expressing competition concerns that the parties were unable to address, the deal was called off late this week, leaving Air Canada and Air Transat to consider their own business issues in what is still very much a COVID19 world. In Canada, the limited number of air travel providers and relative lack of competitiveness have been longstanding concerns for consumers, particularly on some routes. It will be interesting to see how Air Transat, in particular, moves forward, perhaps, creating an opportunity to bring some new parties into the industry. Related to this point, although vaccines are now very much a part of the recovery story, it is difficult to determine when the travel industry will begin to see some meaningful gains and stability.
Those who work in the financial services area understand the challenges of the regulatory aspect of the industry, albeit necessary, in terms of standards, risk management, and consumer protection. Efforts to create a national capital markets regulator in Canada have long been discussed, and with the latest initiative announcing an effective halt, it is difficult to know if and when this objective will be achieved. Failure to have a national regulator not only leaves Canada out of step with the rest of the G7 countries, it keeps what is already a challenging area for funds and companies fragmented for the foreseeable future.
With a global pandemic that has left many companies decimated and people out of work, President Biden’s announcement of “a once-in-a-generation investment in America, unlike anything we’ve seen or done since we built the interstate highway system and the space race decades ago” could be just what is needed. Targeted at a broad range of infrastructure projects, as well as green energy, internet, and housing, the plan could create millions of jobs, use an abundance of supplies, and bring current a number of areas that tend to get delayed, in light of funding shortfalls and other priorities. Despite Buy America provisions, large countries that embark on large projects tend to need more than they alone can produce, something that represents an opportunity for Canada. In the meantime, there are a number of steps that need to evolve, including review and passage of the legislation through Congress; not a given, in times of narrow Democrat majorities.
And, finally, Volkswagen learned the hard way that April Fool’s jokes aren’t always funny, with a less than ideal execution of its announcement to change the name of its American business unit to Voltswagen. The bigger miss is the Voltswagen marketing campaign that could have been; I can see it all in my head.
Thanks for watching and see you again soon, CBC!
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