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$Billion offer withdrawn

Kraft Heinz has decided to withdraw its $143 billion offer to buy mayonnaise, tea and seasonings maker Unilever.

The companies announced the decision Sunday in a joint press release.

Unilever, which has a head office in London, earlier had spurned the offer, saying the price was too low.

Despite rejection, ketchup, cheese and lunch meat maker Kraft Heinz said last week it was still interested in the deal.

Analysts say Kraft Heinz, co-headquartered in Chicago and Pittsburgh, is still in the market for acquisitions.

The deal would have brought together Kraft Heinz brands such as Oscar Mayer, Jell-O and Velveeta and Unilever's Hellman's, Lipton and Knorr. The combined company would have rivaled Nestle as the world's biggest packaged food maker by sales.





Business: 5 things to watch

Five things to watch this week in Canadian business:

Closed for holidays: Stock markets in Toronto and New York will be closed Monday, The United States will be marking Presidents Day while many Canadians will be off for various provincial holidays, including Family Day in Ontario.

Economic data: After a relatively sleepy week, Canadian economic data begins flowing again. Statistics Canada will release the latest wholesale trade figures on Monday, retail trade figures on Wednesday and the consumer price index on Friday.

B.C. budget: What goodies await British Columbians when the provincial government delivers its budget come Tuesday? Premier Christy Clark is on record saying it's time for the province give back to taxpayers. The fiscal plan comes three months before she seeks re-election in May.

The bottom line: It's another heavy earnings week. Some of the heavyweights include Loblaw, CIBC and Royal Bank.

Rail and drug talk: Two Canadian corporate titans are giving talks in the U.S. on Thursday. Keith Creel, CEO of Canadian Pacific Railway, speaks at the Barclays Industrial Select Conference in Miami Beach. In New York, Valeant Pharmaceuticals CEO Joseph Papa will give a speech at the 2017 RBC Capital Markets' Healthcare Conference.



'Get real' PM tells elite

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used one of Germany's most prestigious black-tie galas to tell business leaders to "get real" about the addressing the anxieties of their workers in an uncertain world.

Trudeau delivered the no-holds-barred message to an audience of 400 politicians, business leaders and other notables at the annual St. Matthew's Banquet in the opulent Hamburg city hall.

The St. Matthew's Banquet is a 700-year-old event in which the elders of the city-states invited foreign guests to celebrate their friendship. It has heard from kings, presidents, mayors and others in what is now Germany's second-largest city.

Last year, former British prime minister David Cameron addressed the gathering and laid out his plan for battling his country's Brexit forces. Cameron failed and Britons voted to leave the European Union, part of a global wave of disruption that culminated with Donald Trump's surprise victory in the November presidential election.

Officials say Trudeau was mindful of the whirlwind global changes that have taken place since, especially in Europe — rising anti-trade resentment and a backlash against immigration — when he accepted the invitation to address the banquet.

Trudeau has spoken repeatedly in Europe this week about the need for politicians to address the "anxieties" of working people, who are fearful of the pace of change, and of being left behind in the globalized world.

And he has spoken of the need for politicians to do a better job explaining the tangible benefits of agreements such as Canada's free trade deal with the European Union — a pact the European Parliament ratified earlier in the week over the objections of a vocal civil society movement.

But the prime minister ramped up the message on Friday night in Hamburg, all but telling the corporate elite seated before him to shape up, and stop profiting at the expense of their employees.

"No more brushing aside the concerns of our workers and our citizens," the prime minister said in prepared remarks. "We have to address the root cause of their worries, and get real about how the changing economy is impacting peoples' lives."



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$1.7B wind farm investment

Energy giant Enbridge Inc. is making big inroads into renewables even as changes in government policies are paving the way for the rapid expansion of its traditional oil and gas pipeline business.

The company said Friday it was investing $1.7 billion for 50 per cent of the Hohe See wind energy project off the coast of Germany, which follows last year's $282-million buy of a 50 per cent stake in a group of French offshore wind projects.

"It's clear that we're going to need all sources of supply to meet growing global energy demand, and that includes renewable supplies," said Enbridge CEO Al Monaco in an earnings conference call.

A day earlier, the Federal Trade Commission approved Enbridge's (TSX:ENB) proposed $37-billion takeover of Spectra Energy Corp., which will greatly expand the Calgary-based company's footprint in the United States just as the new administration there brings in more oil-and-gas-friendly policies.

"The political landscape in North America has shifted to, let's call it a more balanced tone for energy and infrastructure and development," said Monaco.

"We've seen strong conviction from the federal and provincial governments in Canada to advance infrastructure, and we see that happening as well in the United States on economic growth and a positive stance on energy."

For the company's new German wind project, it expects to spend $600 million this year and invest the remaining $1.1 billion through 2019, when the project is expected to be in service.

Power generated by the 497-megawatt wind farm will be sold at fixed prices over a 20-year period under a German government incentive program, with the option to expand a further 112 megawatts of capacity.

The company has yet to give the final go-ahead on the 1,428 megawatts of potential French offshore projects, while the 400-megawatt offshore Rampion project in the United Kingdom, which it owns a 25 per cent stake, should come online in 2018.



Dollar not stopping travelers

The relatively low value of the loonie isn't deterring Canadians from travelling to the United States, especially to winter vacation spots in Florida, Arizona and Hawaii, Air Canada said Friday.

Transborder revenues increased 7.2 per cent last year to $2.89 billion, a sign that Canadians are increasingly heading to the U.S., said Ben Smith, the airline's president of passenger services.

"The demand is holding up quite nicely despite the lower Canadian dollar," Smith told analysts during a discussion of its fourth-quarter and 2016 results. That kind of demand wasn't seen in the past when the loonie was low, he added.

In his response, Smith avoided an analyst's question about whether heated political rhetoric in the U.S. has increased bookings to Canada.

Over the past year, the Canadian dollar has traded between the 72-cent and 79-cent US mark. Transborder traffic at Air Canada between the U.S. and Canada grew 13 per cent in that time.

Air Canada, Canada's largest airline, expects overall network traffic will increase again this year with the addition of 18 new destinations. But the company said the pace will slow as it reaches the end of a three-year plan to add seats with the arrival of new Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft and an expansion of its discount Rouge subsidiary.

Capacity grew nearly 15 per cent in 2016 as Air Canada added 28 new destinations, most of which were international.



On the cusp of rebuilding

The head of Canada's auto workers union says the country is on the cusp of building its industry again and shouldn't be concerned with the protectionist policies of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Unifor president Jerry Dias said the automotive industry is in an opportunistic time because of a recent commitment by the so-called Detroit Big Three automakers to invest about $1.5 billion in their Canadian operations after weeks of collective bargaining, as well as a shift in policy from the federal government.

He said the next step is continued investment, such as the Liberal's recent decision to change the automotive innovation fund from repayable loans to grants.

Dias isn't worried this continued investment will be jeopardized by President Trump who has called for automakers to build plants in America to create jobs at home.

Dias said the U.S. leader has bigger fish to fry than Canada and is likely to focus on Mexico — which has a disproportionate amount of investment compared to how many cars are purchased in the country — when it comes to big changes to NAFTA.

He said NAFTA has been unfair to workers in all three countries and any tweaks are likely to make things more beneficial for Canada, which should see a number of jobs in the country that reflects the amount of cars sold within its borders.

Ford's commitment to investing $700 million in its Ontario facilities has not wavered since the election of Trump, Mark Buzzell, head of the automaker's Canadian operations, said Thursday.



BlackBerry class action

A class action against BlackBerry Ltd. has been filed on behalf of more than 300 employees across the country who allege they lost their severance entitlements after being transferred to a business partner of the smartphone software company.

In a statement of claim, Ottawa law firm Nelligan O'Brien Payne said BlackBerry has stated the transfer "is not a sale of business," meaning the employees will lose all of their years of service without any compensation.

The firm says that BlackBerry's actions amount to a termination of the employees' entitlement to their statutory, common law and/or contractual entitlements on termination.

Nelligan O'Brien Payne contends the company structured the transfer to circumvent paying such entitlements.

The allegations in the statement of claim have not been proven in court.

A BlackBerry spokeswoman said the company had no comment about the class action.



Kraft in talks to buy Unilever

U.S. food giant Kraft Heinz Co. confirmed that it's made an offer to buy Europe's Unilever and been rejected.

The company said Friday that talks are ongoing, but that no deal can be assured.

Kraft Heinz, maker of Oscar Mayer meats, Jell-O pudding and Velveeta cheese, said there's no certainty that it will even make another offer.

Unilever's brands include Hellmann's, Lipton and Knorr.

Kraft Heinz is itself the result of a recent buyout.

Two years ago, H.J. Heinz Co., owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital, announced a $45 billion takeover of Kraft Foods.

Companies like Kraft Heinz and Unilever are trying to catch up to rapidly changing consumer tastes as more people steer clear of processed foods. They are changing up the foods they offer and cutting costs.

Shares of Kraft Heinz rose sharply before the opening bell Friday.



The Zuckerberg manifesto

Mark Zuckerberg's long-term vision for Facebook, laid out in a sweeping manifesto , sometimes sounds more like a utopian social guide than a business plan. Are we, he asks, "building the world we all want?"

While most people now use Facebook to connect with friends and family, Zuckerberg thinks that the social network can also encourage more civic engagement, from the local to the global level. Facebook now has nearly two billion members, which makes it larger than any nation in the world.

His 5,800-word essay positions Facebook in direct opposition to a rising tide of isolationism and fear of outsiders, both in the U.S. and abroad. In a phone interview with The Associated Press, Zuckerberg stressed that he wasn't motivated by the U.S. election or any other particular event. Rather, he said, it's the growing sentiment in many parts of the world that "connecting the world" — the founding idea behind Facebook — is no longer a good thing.

"Across the world there are people left behind by globalization, and movements for withdrawing from global connection," Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook in a Harvard dorm room in 2004, wrote on Thursday. So it falls to the company to "develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us."

While the idea of unifying the world is laudable, critics contend Facebook makes some people feel lonelier and more isolated as they scroll through the mostly ebullient posts and photos shared on the social network. Facebook also has been lambasted as a polarizing force by circulating posts espousing similar viewpoints and interests among like-minded people, creating an "echo chamber" that can harden opinions and widen political and cultural chasms.

Today, most of Facebook's 1.86 billion members — about 85 per cent — live outside of the U.S. and Canada.

"For the past decade, Facebook has focused on connecting friends and families. With that foundation, our next focus will be developing the social infrastructure for community — for supporting us, for keeping us safe, for informing us, for civic engagement, and for inclusion of all," he wrote.

Last fall, Zuckerberg and his wife, doctor Priscilla Chan, unveiled the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative , a long-term effort aimed at eradicating all disease by the end of this century. Then, as now, Zuckerberg preferred to look far down the road to the potential of scientific and technological innovations that have not been perfected, or even invented yet.

AI systems could also comb through the vast amount of material users post on Facebook to detect everything from bullying to the early signs of suicidal thinking to extremist recruiting. AI, Zuckerberg wrote, could "understand more quickly and accurately what is happening across our community."



Oil trains going too fast?

Current speed limits for Canada's oil-carrying freight trains may be too high to prevent serious accidents and should be re-evaluated, the Transportation Safety Board said Thursday as it released the findings of its investigation into a fiery 2015 derailment in northern Ontario.

The TSB said its review of the incident that dumped 1.7 million litres of crude oil into the local ecosystem has raised concerns about the existing Transport Canada rules, particularly as they apply to older train cars that are expected to continue carrying oil and other potentially dangerous goods for years to come.

The February 2015 derailment in a remote, wooded area near Gogama, Ont., about 80 kilometres south of Timmins, Ont., sent 29 cars hurtling off the tracks.

No one was injured, but the TSB said the crash breached 19 cars, causing the massive oil spill and igniting fires that burned for five days.

At a press conference in Sudbury, Ont., on Thursday the board said the derailment was caused when two joint bars used to connect pieces of rail failed.

The TSB attributed the failure in part to poor maintenance practices, but said speed also played a role.

TSB Chair Kathy Fox said the train was travelling at 61 kilometres an hour at the time of the derailment, three kilometres below the 64-kilometre maximum set for that stretch of track.

"The TSB is concerned that currently permitted speeds are too high for key trains transporting Class 3 flammable liquids," Fox said.

"We are recommending that Transport Canada study all factors that increase the severity of derailments involving dangerous goods, including speed, that Transport Canada develop mitigating strategies, and then amend the rules accordingly."

Transport Canada currently allows freight trains carrying dangerous goods to travel at a maximum speed of 80 kilometres an hour everywhere, and at a maximum of 64 kilometres per hour through densely populated areas and where dangerous goods are being transported in older tank cars in higher risk zones.

Rob Johnston, the TSB's manager for central regional operations, said the Gogama derailment was reminiscent of the 2013 crash in Lac Megantic, Que., that saw sections of the town burn to the ground.

The tank cars involved in the Gogama derailment featured tougher steel and were built to a higher standard than those involved in the Lac Megantic disaster, he said, but added they still lacked certain key features and were vulnerable to damage at higher speeds.

Johnston said the derailment breached the shells on eight cars, which caused an initial oil spill and started a large "pool fire."

More oil spilled when seven cars lying in the fire sustained "thermal tears," he added. Johnston did not describe exactly how the other four breached cars were damaged.

The federal government has announced tougher standards for tank cars carrying crude oil and accelerated the process of removing potentially unsafe cars from the tracks, but Fox said the type involved in the Gogama crash will still be in use until 2025.

While she said speed is a key factor, she said the board is urging Transport Canada to study all variables including the type of product on board and how it's distributed within the train.

Johnston said another factor at play was allegedly shoddy maintenance practices at CN Rail, the company that owned the train involved.

He said a newly hired assistant track supervisor wasn't given the proper training or support to spot the fact that the joint bars were deteriorating.

"There was nothing in CN's training that provided him with information to ... look for additional defects in the course of his monitoring," Johnston said.

Johnston said CN has since taken numerous steps to beef up its training protocols, as well as replaced more than 70 kilometres of track in the area.



TransCanada refiles for XL

TransCanada says it's once again seeking approval of its Keystone XL pipeline route in Nebraska despite stiff opposition from some landowners.

The energy company says the application it has filed with the Nebraska Public Service Commission is the clearest path to achieving route certainty, adding that it expects a decision on its application by the end of the year.

It says the proposed route was approved by the governor of Nebraska in 2013 and its application has been shaped by "direct, on-the-ground input from Nebraskans."

Nebraska has been the site of some of the fiercest resistance to Keystone XL due to concerns that a spill could contaminate the Ogallala Aquifer.

"We're an ag state not an oil state, and so we don't think that we should be risking our water supplies and the agricultural economy so Canada can get their tarsands to the export market," said Jane Kleeb, president of the Bold Alliance group that is pushing against the project.

TransCanada says the pipeline would avoid the Nebraska Sandhills area of the state under which the aquifer sits, but Kleeb disagrees with how the company has defined the area and says it still threatens water reserves.

She said she's confident that those opposed to the project will be successful through the Public Service Commission process, which TransCanada has reverted to after first trying to use eminent domain to seize land for the project.

TransCanada says more than 90 per cent of landowners in the state have already voluntarily signed easements to the project, while Kleeb says there are 82 landowners still strongly opposed who have refused.

The company also filed a presidential permit application for the project late last month after being invited by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has asked that the review process be done quickly.

In its quarterly results out Thursday TransCanada said it expects the Keystone XL pipeline to still have enough support from oil producers for it to make a final investment decision on the long-delayed project.



Peladeau back at Quebecor

Pierre Karl Peladeau is returning to his job as the president and CEO of Quebecor Inc., one of Canada's largest media and telecommunications companies.

Peladeau, whose family founded the company, stepped down from the top job at the telecom in 2013 and began a short-lived political career.

"I am very pleased to return to the helm of Quebecor," Peladeau, 55, said in a statement Thursday.

"The corporation is dear to my heart, it is in sound financial health, and has grown steadily in recent years."

Peladeau, whose return is effective immediately, had served as president and CEO of Quebecor for 14 years before entering the political arena.

He ran for the Parti Quebecois in the 2014 provincial election and was elected PQ leader in 2015. However, Peladeau resigned from politics last year amid turmoil in his personal life.

In January 2016, he separated from his wife, actress and producer Julie Snyder, after a short marriage following years together.

The company that Peladeau returns to is different from the one he left.

Quebecor has grown its wireless business in recent years, adding hundreds of thousands of new mobile phone customers since 2013.

The company also sold Sun Media's English-language operations — including the Sun chain of daily newspapers — to Postmedia Network Canada and shut down Sun News Network, the company's news channel, after it failed to find a buyer for the TV station.

TVA Group discontinued its Argent specialty service last year.

However, National Bank Financial analyst Adam Shine said that Peladeau's return shouldn't come as a surprise and he doesn't expect any material change at the company with his arrival.

"We'll watch for executive turnover, but none is truly expected," Shine wrote in a note to clients.

Quebecor owns an 81 per cent stake in Quebecor Media, which holds the Videotron cable and telecommunications company and TVA Group broadcaster as well as various other media businesses.

Peladeau's family controls the company through its class-A multiple-voting shares.



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