Brookfield acquires mortgage insurer Genworth Canada in $2.4-billion deal

BANKING REPORTER | The Globe and Mail

Brookfield Asset Management Inc.’s private-equity arm is making a long-term bet on Canada’s mortgage market with a $2.4-billion deal to take control of Genworth MI Canada Inc., the country’s second-largest mortgage insurer.

Brookfield Business Partners LP, a publicly-traded subsidiary of the global asset manager, is acquiring a 57-per-cent stake in Genworth MI Canada from the mortgage insurer’s American parent company, Genworth Financial Inc.

Brookfield will pay $48.86 a share for nearly 49 million shares in Genworth MI Canada – a 5-per-cent discount to the price at Monday’s close on the Toronto Stock Exchange, but an 18-per-cent premium compared with the date when the company was formally put up for sale.

The deal appears to relieve a headache for Richmond, Va.-based Genworth, which has waited years for regulators to approve a separate deal that would see the American company acquired for US$2.7-billion by a privately held Chinese buyer, China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co. Ltd. That transaction, which was first announced in October, 2016, has stalled while awaiting approval from Canadian regulators and federal officials, who are required to consider the potential impact on Canada’s mortgage industry and have held the deal up over national-security concerns, even after U.S. regulators gave it a green light.

Earlier this summer, Genworth Financial announced it was considering “strategic alternatives” for Genworth MI Canada, seeking to break the deadlock. That raised the prospect that, absent a suitable buyer, Genworth Financial’s stake in its Canadian subsidiary might have to be sold into the public market at a discount. But Brookfield emerged with deep pockets and the industry expertise needed to take control.

“We are pleased to find such a high-calibre buyer for our interest in Genworth Canada,” said Genworth Financial president and chief executive Tom McInerney.

Genworth Financial’s share price shot up 15.8 per cent on Tuesday, and Brookfield Business Partners shares rose 2.7 per cent, but stock in Genworth MI Canada fell 1.7 per cent.

The Canadian arm of Genworth is a rare asset. It is Canada’s largest private-sector mortgage insurer, providing a backstop against defaults to residential mortgage lenders, and it trails only the government-owned Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) in size. Its only privately owned competitor is Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Company, which is jointly owned by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and financier Stephen Smith.

Genworth Canada currently has a 33-per-cent share of the country’s mortgage-insurance market, while CMHC holds half and Canada Guaranty the remaining 17 per cent, according to data from RBC Dominion Securities Inc. But the federal housing agency has been ceding its share to the private insurers.

Genworth’s improving position in a highly consolidated market made it a logical target for Brookfield Business Partners, which seeks to acquire and manage companies in sectors where the barrier to entry is high. Brookfield also has extensive expertise in mortgages and housing: It is one of the largest residential real estate developers in North America, active in real estate financing, and owns the Royal LePage brokerage.

Brookfield Business Partners managing partner David Nowak described Genworth Canada as “a high-quality leader in the mortgage-insurance sector,” in a statement.

The total share of mortgages that are insured has been falling, from 57 per cent in 2015 to 41 per cent in 2019, according to a recent CMHC report. The shift toward uninsured mortgages comes as regulators have tightened rules on mortgage lending, requiring borrowers to meet stricter tests to qualify for mortgage insurance.

Even so, the housing sector as a whole has continued to grow, adding a steady stream of new demand for mortgage insurance, particularly from first-time home buyers. And Brookfield is betting that Genworth can grab a larger share of the market, making full use of Brookfield’s deep relationships with banks that do the lion’s share of Canada’s mortgage lending.

The deal is expected to close before then end of 2019, subject to approvals from Canada’s banking regulator and Minister of Finance.

Brookfield is not currently looking to acquire the 43 per cent of Genworth MI Canada’s shares that are owned by other investors. But Jaeme Gloyn, an analyst at National Bank Financial Inc., said that prospect “is not entirely off the table” and “would likely unfold at a premium” to the price Brookfield is paying for control.

Ratings agency DBRS Ltd. called the deal “positive for Genworth Canada,” which has been more stable than its U.S. parent.

Oceanwide Holdings consented to the transaction and extended the deadline to finalize its own deal with Genworth Financial until Dec. 31.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Swap These Financial Stocks to Reduce Risk

Victoria Hetherington

Rising household debt, falling house prices, slowing credit applications – it’s a wonder anyone is still buying shares in Canada’s Big Six banks. Indeed, from financing weed suppliers to exposing itself to a potentially volatile American market, big Bay Street bankers may be too rich by half for the low-risk appetites of domestic investors looking to them for stability.

Take Bank of Nova Scotia (TSX:BNS)(NYSE:BNS), with its exposure to the U.S. economy, for instance. Scotiabank does substantial business south of the border, and as such may have left itself vulnerable to the potential of a widespread market downturn in the U.S. Even with this leg up, though, it still managed to underperform the Canadian banking industry as well as the TSX index for the past year.

More shares have been bought than sold by Bank of Nova Scotia insiders in the past three months, though not in vastly significant volumes. The usual boxes are ticked by its value, indicating P/E of 10.6 times earnings and P/B of 1.4 times book, while a stable dividend yield of 4.88% is augmented by a good-for-a-bank-stock 6.6% expected annual growth in earnings.

Again, overexposure to the United States market is an issue with Bank of Montreal(TSX:BMO)(NYSE:BMO). Specifically, this comes from BMO Harris Bank, a large personal and commercial bank; BMO Private Bank, which offers wealth management across the U.S.; plus BMO Capital Markets, an investment and corporate banking arm of the parent banker.

With year-on-year returns of 8.1%, BMO outperformed the industry and the market, and as such seems a safe bet on the face of it. Its one-year past earnings growth of 24.6% shows rapid recent improvement given its five-year average growth rate of 6.1%. Meanwhile, a P/E of 11.3 times earnings and P/B of 1.5 times book show near-market valuation, and a dividend yield of 3.9% is matched with a 3.6% expected annual growth in earnings.

Try the “insulated” alternatives

An example of domestic alternative on the TSX index would be Laurentian Bank of Canada (TSX:LB). Although its one-year past earnings dropped by 4.2%, a five-year average past earnings growth of 14.3% shows overall positivity, while a P/E of 9 times earnings and P/B of 0.8 times book illustrate Laurentian Bank of Canada’s characteristic good value. A dividend yield of 6.3% coupled with a 9.2% expected annual growth in earnings gives the Big Six a run for their money.

Alternatively, Manulife Finanical (TSX:MFC)(NYSE:MFC) offers a way to stick with financials but ditch the banks. This ever-popular insurance stock was up 2.33% in the last five days at the time of writing and is very attractive in term of value at the moment, with a P/E of 10.3 times earnings and P/B of 1.1 times book.

Manulife Financial’s 3.5% year-on-year returns managed to beat the Canadian insurance industry, but just missed out on walloping the TSX index’s 4.2%. In terms of the company’s track record, its one-year past earnings growth of 138.1% eclipsed the market and its industry, though its five-year average is sadly negative. Its balance sheet is solid, however, with its level of debt reduced over the past five years from 60.2% to the current 41% today.

The bottom line

Sidestepping banks may be a shrewd move at the moment, with other forms of financials offering a more insulated route to a broader space. While more regionalized banks like Laurentian Bank of Canada are one option, stocks like Manulife Financial, with its dividend yield of 4.17% and 11.3% expected annual growth in earnings offer a similar but less risky play on the TSX index’s financial sector.

Two-thirds of Canadians enter 2019 worried about the economy

NEWS PROVIDED BY

Financial Planning Standards Council 

TORONTOJan. 21, 2019 /CNW/ – Two-thirds of Canadians enter 2019 worried about their financial fortunes, according to a recent economic poll. The Kitchen Table Forecast, a Leger poll of 1,515 Canadians, was conducted for non-profit organizations Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) and Credit Canada.

The survey sought to add consumer context to reports on slowing economic growth by asking Canadians about a series of “kitchen table” issues – the sort of daily financial concerns that confront people on a daily basis, such as bill payments and debt, cost of living, job security and bankruptcy. It comes on the heels of a global report by The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that suggests Canada is showing signs of a sharp decline in growth in 2019.

“Canadians are feeling stressed about their finances and are often at a loss to improve their situation,” said author, personal finance educator and FPSC’s Consumer Advocate, Kelley Keehn. “This hopelessness can cause people to do nothing, and possibly make their condition worse. Uncertainty about an ever-changing job market and economy only intensifies the average person’s confidence and ability to handle the ebb and flow that life inevitably presents.”

The “R word” – Four-in-10 Canadians feel economy will get worse in 2019
The report didn’t ask about the dreaded “R-word” (recession) specifically; however, four-in-10 Canadians (42%) feel that the economy will get worse in 2019 – while 36 per cent believe it will stay the same. Across the country, people aged 55-plus are significantly more likely than those under 55 to feel the economy will get worse in 2019 (47% vs. 39%). Meanwhile, Quebecers (at 46%) are more confident than the rest of Canadians (34%) that the economy will stay the same in 2019.

“It’s no surprise people over 55 are more pessimistic (or realistic) when it comes to our economy. This isn’t their first rodeo and they know the red flags,” says Credit Canada CEO, Laurie Campbell. “Insolvency rates were up by more than five per cent last fall, we’ve seen five interest rate hikes since mid-2017, and the cost of living continues to rise. If debt levels don’t come down and people don’t start to get serious about paying off their debt, it’s only a matter of time before we’re in major trouble. You can only bury your head in the sand for so long.”

Looking ahead – Daily financial concerns 
Respondents were also asked the question “Looking ahead into 2019, what are you most worried about?”  Overall, two-in-three Canadians (67%) say they have worries when forecasting their prospects for the year. While gender does not play a role, those under 55 are considerably more likely to be worried (76% vs. 52% for those over 55). Respondents with children under 18 are also more likely to have concerns (79% vs. 62% for those without children).

Here are the “kitchen table” issues that are keeping Canadians up at night:

  • 34 per cent are concerned that the increased cost of living will put them further in debt
  • One-in-four (23%) are concerned they won’t be able keep up with monthly payments
  • Also, one-in-four (23%) are concerned with their debt growing
  • 13 per cent are concerned about losing their job
  • 10 per cent are concerned about other bread-winners in their home losing their jobs
  • 14 per cent are concerned about an unaffordable increase in mortgage interest rates
  • Five per cent are concerned about going bankrupt

Alternatively, one-in-four Canadians (26%) were “not worried about anything” going into 2019.

How to recession-proof your life – tips from FPSC’s Consumer Advocate, Kelley Keehn

  1. Get your emergency fund established and funded.  Experts estimate three-to-six months of household income that’s safe and secure.
  2. Do a family net worth statement.  Know your situation and know where you may be leaving money on the table, like with an employer-funded pension plan or employer RRSP matching plan.
  3. Consider your insurance needs during times of high debt in the case of death, disability or job loss.
  4. Don’t panic – seek out expert assistance from a CFP® professional who can create a plan that protects your downside without adding to your already stretched bottom line.
  5. Take a hard look at ways to cut expenses or increase your income to increase your bottom line and help fund your emergency account.

How to recession proof your life – tips from Credit Canada CEO, Laurie Campbell

  1. Build (and stick to) a monthly budget to ensure you know exactly how much money is coming in, how much is going out, and how much is left over for financial goals. See where you can cut costs – for example, find cheaper cell phone and internet plans, gym memberships and better insurance rates.
  2. Contribute regularly to an emergency savings fund. Make regular contributions – even small amounts, such as $20, is a very positive step. Consider setting up automated savings through your bank.
  3. Pay down debt. Start with paying off the credit cards with the highest interest rates first, also known as the “avalanche” method for paying down debt. Credit Canada’s free Debt Calculator can help determine the best debt repayment strategy for each individual.
  4. Always remember that Credit Canada offers free, confidential, one-on-one counselling sessions with certified credit counsellors.

The full results of the Kitchen Table Forecast can be found on the FPSC and Credit Canada websites.

About Credit Canada 
Credit Canada is a not-for-profit credit counselling agency that provides free and confidential debt and credit counselling, personal debt consolidation and resolutions, as well as preventative counselling, educational seminars, and free tips and tools in the areas of budgeting, money management, and financial goal-setting. Credit Canada is Canada’sfirst and longest-standing credit counselling agency and a leader in financial wellness, helping Canadians successfully manage their debt since 1966. Please visit www.creditcanada.com for more information.

About Financial Planning Standards Council
A professional standards-setting and certification body working in the public interest, FPSC’s purpose is to drive value and instill confidence in financial planning. FPSC ensures those it certifies―Certified Financial Planner® professionals and FPSC Level 1® Certificants in Financial Planning―meet appropriate standards of competence and professionalism through rigorous requirements of education, examination, experience and ethics. There are approximately 18,500 financial planners in Canada who have met, and continue to meet, FPSC’s standards. More information is available at FPSC.ca and FinancialPlanningForCanadians.ca. Effective April 1, 2019, FPSC will become FP Canada™: a national professional body dedicated to advancing professional financial planning. Learn more at FPCanada.ca.

About the Kitchen Table Forecast
The survey of 1,515 Canadians was completed between January 4 and January 7, 2019, for Credit Canada and FPSC using Leger’s online panel. The margin of error for this study was +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

Leger’s online panel has approximately 400,000 members nationally and has a retention rate of 90%.

Websites

https://www.creditcanada.com/ 
http://www.financialplanningforcanadians.ca/   
http://www.kelleykeehn.com/

CFP® and Certified Financial Planner® are certification trademarks owned outside the U.S. by Financial Planning Standards Board Ltd. (FPSB). Financial Planning Standards Council is the marks licensing authority for the CFP marks in Canada, through agreement with FPSB. All other ® are registered trademarks of FPSC, unless indicated. © 2018 Financial Planning Standards Council. All rights reserved.

SOURCE Financial Planning Standards Council

When your parents die broke

By Liz Weston

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Blogger John Schmoll’s father left a financial mess when he died: a house that was worth far less than the mortgage, credit card bills in excess of $20,000 and debt collector s who insisted the son was legally obligated to pay what his father owed.

Fortunately, Schmoll knew better.

“I’ve been working in financial services for two decades,” says Schmoll, an Omaha, Nebraska, resident who was a stockbroker before starting his site, Frugal Rules. “I knew that I wasn’t responsible.”

Baby boomers are expected to transfer trillions to their heirs in coming years. But many people will inherit little more than a pile of bills.

Nearly half of seniors die owning less than $10,000 in financial assets, according to a 2012 study for the National Bureau of Economic Research. Meanwhile, debt among older Americans is soaring. It used to be relatively unusual to have a mortgage or credit card debt in retirement. Now, 23 per cent of those older than 75 have mortgages, a four-fold increase since 1989, and 26 per cent have credit card debt, a 159 per cent increase, according to the Federal Reserve’s latest data from the 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances .

If your parents are among those likely to die in debt, here’s what you need to know.

*YOU (PROBABLY) AREN’T RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR DEBTS When people die, their debts don’t disappear. Those debts are now owed by their estates. Some estates don’t have enough assets (property, investments and cash) to pay all of the bills, so some of those bills just don’t get paid. Spouses may have the responsibility for certain debts, depending on state law, but survivors who aren’t spouses usually don’t have to pay what’s owed unless they co-signed for the debt or applied for credit together with the person who died.

What’s more, assets that pass directly to heirs often don’t have to be used to pay the estate’s debts. These assets can include “pay on death” bank accounts, life insurance policies, retirement plans and other accounts that name beneficiaries, as long as the beneficiary isn’t the estate.

“You take it and go home,” says Jennifer Sawday, an estate planning attorney in Long Beach, California.

*YOU NEED A LAWYER Some parents hope to avoid creditors or the costs of probate, which is the court process that typically follows a death, by adding a child’s name to a house deed or transferring the property entirely. Either of those moves can cause legal and tax consequences and should be discussed with a lawyer first. After a parent dies, the executor must follow state law in determining how limited funds are distributed and can be held personally responsible for mistakes. That makes consulting a lawyer a smart idea _ and the estate typically would pay the costs. (The costs of administering an estate are considered high-priority debts that are paid before other bills, such as credit cards.)

At his attorney’s advice, Schmoll sent letters to his dad’s creditors explaining the estate was insolvent, then formally closed the estate according to the probate laws of Montana, where his dad had lived.

A lawyer also can advise you how to proceed if a parent isn’t just insolvent, but also doesn’t have any assets at all. In that situation, there may not be a reason to open up a probate case and deal with collectors, Sawday says.

“Sometimes, I advise clients just to lay the person to rest and do nothing,” Sawday says. “Let a creditor handle it.”

*YOU NEED TO TAKE METICULOUS NOTES The financial lives of people in debt are often chaotic _ and sorting it all out can take time. As executor of his dad’s estate, Schmoll dealt with over a dozen collection agencies, utilities and lenders, often talking to multiple people about a single account. He kept a document where he tracked details such as the names of people he talked to, dates and times of the conversations, what was said and required follow-up actions as well as reference numbers for various accounts.

*YOU SHOULDN’T BELIEVE WHAT DEBT COLLECTORS TELL YOU Some collectors told Schmoll he had a moral obligation to pay his father’s debts, since the borrowed money might have been spent on the family. Schmoll knew they were trying to exploit his desire to do the right thing, and advises others in similar situations not to let debt collectors play on their emotions.

“Just don’t make a snap decision, because it’s very easy to say, ‘You know what? I need to think about it. Let me call you back,”’ Schmoll says.

_______

This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet.

With Rising Rates, These Are the Best Insurance Options

With Rising Rates, These Are the Best Insurance Options

Ryan Goldsman | The Motley Fool

With two interest rate increases in the books for 2017, Canadians could be looking at a third increase before December 31.

Given this potential headwind, every investor will want to ask themselves where they can go to hide money in the event that borrowing costs continue to escalate, potentially slowing down major capital expenditures for many companies.

As most investors have already recognized the obvious benefactors of higher rates, such as banks and mortgage companies, the opportunities presented by companies that hold a large amount of short- to medium-term capital may not seem as obvious.

When considering Canada’s insurance companies, investors should remember that the capital taken in (known as float) needs to be put into short-term, highly liquid investments for when the money is needed to payout claims.

Leading the pack is Manulife Financial Corp. (TSX:MFC)(NYSE:MFC), which has one of the biggest balance sheets of any Canadian company. As of June 30, 2017, the company held assets of$725 billion, which now has the potential to bring in a greater amount of interest income over time.

The company, which trades at a price of less than $25 per share, offers investors a dividend yield of more than 3.25% and tangible book value of almost $22 per share. Clearly, the market is factoring in a rosy future for this company. The good news for investors is the high probability of a much better bottom line.

The second-biggest insurance company by market capitalization is Great-West Lifeco Inc. (TSX:GWO. At a 4.25% dividend yield, the company could potentially make investors very happy over the next year.

With the most consistent earnings over the past few years and a levered balance sheet, the company is in prime position to surpass expectations as time passes.

As the amount of shareholders’ equity has continued to increase over time, shareholders in Great-West Lifeco may benefit the most from rising rates, as the increase in retained earnings could be used to conduct a share buyback.

Last on the list are shares of Sun Life Financial Inc. (TSX:SLF)(NYSE:SLF. At 1.7 times tangible book value, there may already be high expectations priced into the share price.

Although the dividend-payout ratio remains relatively low, the total amount of shareholders’ equity has not increased substantially over the past few years. Assets, however, have increased alongside liabilities, leading to a bigger balance sheet.

With larger balance sheets than in previous years, Canada’s insurance industry may be the best positioned industry to grow revenues and earnings, and could return significant amounts of capital to shareholders over the next few years.

As an industry, the Canadian banks have done a fantastic job showing how to compete with one another while maximizing profits to shareholders. In the hope that the insurance industry will follow suit, investors can guard against rising rates by buying into the sector.

Consumers Rush to Lock in Mortgage Rates ahead of Bank of Canada Rate Hikes

The number of Canadians who applied for a fixed-rate mortgage in August saw a substantial spike, with 59.31% of users on the LowestRates.ca website opting for a fixed-rate mortgage over variable.

Historically, the majority of Canadians who shop for mortgage rates on LowestRates.ca opt for variable-rate mortgages. Since January 2014, 56.56% of users have gone variable, compared with 43.44% of those who go fixed. The shift in August is seen as a reaction to the Bank of Canada’s decision to raise interest rates. On July 12, the bank hiked rates by 25 basis points — the first upward move since 2010. Rates were again raised another quarter of a percent on September 6.

“It’s important for consumers not to panic,” said Justin Thouin, co-founder and CEO of LowestRates.ca. “Data over the past 30 years shows that Canadians have saved more money on interest by going with a variable rate, rather than a fixed-rate mortgage.”

“Yes, a BoC rate hike means your mortgage payments go up if you have a variable-rate mortgage. And this causes some Canadians to overreact and do anything they can to switch to a fixed-rate mortgage,” Thouin adds.  “Doing this might buy you peace of mind if the thought of rising interest rates keeps you up at night.  But based on the past 30 years, staying in a variable rate mortgage is still the right choice in the long run if your goal is to pay as little interest as possible.”

Understanding The Impact of Rate Change

If a consumer purchases a home for $750,000 (with a down payment of 10 per cent amortized over 25 years), at a five-year, variable rate of 1.95 per cent, they would have a total monthly mortgage interest payment of $1,096.88 (keep in mind, this does not include additional costs such as mortgage insurance, principal payment or property taxes).  If the Bank of Canada increases its overnight rate by 25 basis points, that homeowner’s monthly interest payment on their mortgage would be $1,237.50 — an increase of $140.62 per month.

That same homeowner using a fixed mortgage rate — the most competitive fixed product on LowestRates.ca last month was 2.63% — would have a total monthly mortgage interest payment of $1,479.38.  While they can lock in that rate for five years, they’re still spending $241.88 a month more in interest compared with the variable product even after variable rates go up. That’s $2,902.56 a year in increased costs!

“Analysts have a wide range of opinions as to how many additional increases the BoC will make over the next 18 months, but until there is a substantial increase, the impact will be not that extreme,” says Thouin.

About LowestRates.ca

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