By Staff | December 1, 2006 | Last updated on December 1, 2006
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(December 1, 2006) The board of directors of the Montreal Exchange has decided in favour of listing the exchange’s shares on stock markets, starting in the spring of next year.

The board also announced Friday that it will proceed with the listing without an initial public offering.

“The board’s decision to list the Montreal Exchange’s shares was based fundamentally on the recognition of the level of maturity attained by the organization,” said MX president Luc Bertrand.

“Given the current situation in which the MX business generates sufficient funds to finance its activities and development projects, the members of the board of directors and MX management concluded that a listing without offering meets the liquidity objective for MX shares,” he added.

The MX trades Canadian futures and options on stocks and bonds. It also holds a significant stake in the Boston Options Exchange, a U.S. automated equity options exchange.

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Western Financial buys up slew of B.C. insurance firms

(December 1, 2006) Western Financial has announced plans to purchase 15 insurance offices in northern B.C. Financial terms were not released.

The list includes Geer & Spice Insurance Agencies, with three offices in Dawson Creek; Northland Insurance Services in Fort Nelson; and J.W. Baker Insurance Agencies (three offices) and Pomeroy Insurance Services, both in Fort St. John.

“These communities are vibrant centres of growth and activity in B.C.,” said Western Financial president Scott Tannas, noting that natural gas, forestry and agriculture are key drivers of the local economies. “We are determined to build on the strong base of customers, employees and locations now established.”

Western also plans to purchase the remaining 75% of Northcountry Insurance Agencies from its partners. Northcountry’s seven offices will be fully integrated into Western Financial Group’s agency network.

Northcountry Insurance offices are located in 100 Mile House, Burns Lake, Fraser Lake, Houston, Smithers, Vanderhoof and Williams Lake, B.C. The deals are expected to close in January.

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Manulife Bank launches U.S. high-interest savings accounts

(December 1, 2006) Manulife Bank has introduced two new high-interest savings accounts, the $US Advantage Account and the $US Business Advantage Account. Both are available through financial advisors and offer an interest rate of 4.25%.

The $US Advantage Account is designed for Canadian residents with a U.S. dollar bank account, while the $US Business Advantage Account is available to incorporated and unincorporated organizations in Canada, also with U.S. dollar bank accounts.

“Canadians who do business in or travel frequently to the U.S. often maintain a U.S. dollar account to reduce the impact of currency fluctuation on their savings. But often these accounts pay little or no interest,” said J. Roman Fedchyshyn, president and CEO of Manulife Bank. “With a great rate of interest and no minimum deposit amount, our new U.S. currency accounts help these U.S. dollar savings to grow.”

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Meritas announces new shareholder action program

(December 1, 2006) Meritas Mutual Funds has hired Vancouver-based Shareholder Association for Research and Education for its new shareholder action program.

Meritas says it plans to discuss issues such as sustainability reporting and human rights with senior management of some of Canada’s largest publicly traded companies.

“Having an ongoing dialogue with the senior management of the companies in our portfolio has always been an integral part of socially responsible investing at Meritas Mutual Funds,” said CEO Gary Hawton. “Since the goal of Meritas is to invest in the companies that represent the best blend of financial, environmental, social and governance policies and procedures, we want to provide the management of these companies with insight into the best practices in these areas. We think that can add value and reduce risk for our shareholders.”

“We are pleased to have Meritas Mutual Funds as a leading client for our shareholder engagement activities,” said Peter Chapman, executive director of SHARE. “By making this commitment to better dialogue with the companies that they own, Meritas Mutual Funds is demonstrating real leadership in the areas of corporate social responsibility and responsible investing.”

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Options trader fined by Montreal Exchange

(December 1, 2006) Nearly four years after a complaint was filed, the Montreal Exchange has fined options trader Kevin Abarbanel $15,000.

Abarbanel admitted having contravened rules prohibiting restricted-trading-permit holders from using or knowingly participating in the use of any manipulative or deceptive methods of trading in connection with the purchase or sale of any derivative instruments listed on the exchange.

From July 2001 to January 2002, Abarbanel executed six transactions for the purchase or sale of three-month Canadian Bankers’ Acceptance futures contracts in a manner contrary to the exchange’s regulations.

Abarbanel was also ordered to pay an additional $3,000 in investigative costs.

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The staff of have been covering news for financial advisors since 1998.