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Streetwise newsletter: Scotiabank, TD review practices; Schulich bumps up stake in Birchcliff

A Bank of Nova Scotia sign is seen outside of a branch in Ottawa May 31, 2016.

CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS

At least two of Canada's largest banks audited their own sales practices last year, taking extra measures after a damaging sales scandal engulfed U.S.-based Wells Fargo & Co.

Major banks in Canada have come under closer scrutiny in recent weeks after media reports alleged that some front-line staff felt pressure to meet ambitious sales targets. With complaints rising, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) has promised to review sales practices, focusing on bank employees' obligation to get customer consent and disclose fees and costs when selling new products.

Domestic banks are under pressure to keep boosting profits in the face of slow economic growth and high consumer debt loads. The main engine for growth at most Canadian banks is the retail arm, which serves consumers whose expectations are rapidly changing as banking moves increasingly online. Story

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Seymour Schulich bumps up stake in Birchcliff Energy with share purchase

Seymour Schulich wants to bolster his position in Birchcliff Energy Ltd. but has no plans to acquire much more in his other energy investment, Pengrowth Energy Corp.

The former mining executive has been increasing his holdings in the two energy companies amid the commodities downturn. His most recent purchase, announced on Monday, was 2.5 million shares of Birchcliff, which bumped up his stake in the company to 14.2 per cent.

Mr. Schulich said he hopes to eventually own 15 per cent. "It's going to get bought out but not by me," he said. "I am only buying for investment purposes." Story

DAILY DEALS

Savanna Energy Services Corp. shares fell on Monday after investors holding more than half the company's stock tendered to Total Energy Services Inc.'s $225-million hostile offer, all but sealing a takeover battle for the oil-field services provider. Story

Restaurant Brands International Inc. of Oakville, Ont., has received enough shares of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. to complete its $1.8-billion (U.S.) friendly takeover of the fast food chain. Story

ELSEWHERE IN FINANCE

President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, met during the White House transition with the head of a state-run Russian bank that is on a U.S. sanctions list, White House officials said. Story (WSJ, subscription required)

The Supreme Court on Monday declined an invitation to rescue a $7.25-billion antitrust settlement over fees between Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. and retailers, effectively clearing the way for merchants to sue for additional charges incurred in recent years. Story (WSJ, subscription required)

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. said it was invited to invest in Saudi Arabian Oil Co. as part of what could be the world's biggest-ever initial public offering. Story (Bloomberg)

In the long run, the bullish analysts working for Snapchat's IPO underwriters may prove to be correct. Snapchat's future is particularly tricky to predict because it is so young. But as usual, when Wall Street research divisions have rose-colored glasses, it's fair to wonder whether they're seeing dollar signs in their eyes. Story (Bloomberg)

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