Monday, July 7, 2008

BCE: Irrefutable evidence of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's incompetence/complicity

By (1), shutting down the income trust marketplace, and (2), simultaneously eliminating the 15% withholding tax on corporate interest, Jim Flaherty has caused the LBO of BCE, much in the same way as water flows downhill.

In his attempts to stem phantom unproven tax leakage, Jim Flaherty has caused the real loss of $800 million in annual taxes, from BCE alone.

His response? "It’s not my fault”. How’s that for government accountability and/or personal integrity?

As per the article below, maybe Jim Flaherty is simply blaming Bob Hamilton, ADM in the DoF. Bob Hamilton’s punishment? He got promoted. Just like Mark Carney, the architect of the income trust policy fiasco. At least the policy has worked out well for Mark's former employer, Goldman Sachs. I don’t suppose Goldman would have pocketed $48 million from the income trust conversion IPO of BCE as they did from the LBO of BCE. That would have required actually having a presence in Canada and a retail client base...somewhere...anywhere.

Instead Goldman Sachs assured themselves, via Canadian government tax policy, that the playing field was "levelled" in their favour and that of their corporate/imstitutional/private equity clientele.

Retail investors matter not a wit to Jim Flaherty. That's why he was so blythe about sticking them with a $35 billion permanent impairment in their collective life savings.....with zero supporting evidence to back up his actions.

Flaherty’s double taxation of public income trusts is simply a bespoke tax policy for private equity, Canadian pension funds and corporations, like Manulfe et al, who loathe competition for what they prefer to be captive investment dollars.

Trust tax linked to private equity buyouts

Globe and Mail
June 13, 2007

OTTAWA -- The income trust structure was a major impediment to private equity firms buying up pieces of Corporate Canada, the Finance Department was told one day before Ottawa slapped a crippling tax on the sector.

"Private equity firms generally find it difficult to compete against the income trust alternative, said an Oct. 30, 2006, memo sent to Bob Hamilton, senior assistant deputy minister of tax policy at the Finance Department.

The memo was obtained by The Globe and Mail under access to information law.

For anyone at Finance who knew the trust tax was imminent, one conclusion that's easily drawn from the memo is that taxing trusts out of existence would likely usher in even more private equity buyouts by Canadian and foreign investors, which is what happened.

The levy, which applies to new trusts immediately, has killed the formation of new trusts and removed an option for companies that are being targeted for takeover by private equity.

That's meant a jump in private equity interest in bids for companies such as BCE Inc. that had previously considered converting to trusts.

Finance Department censors have blacked out portions of the briefing note -- which has a security classification of "protected" -- but it was sent to Mr. Hamilton because, as the author said, it contained "key highlights relevant to tax policy analysis [that] are worth mentioning."

The memo, sent by Paul Berg-Dick, a director at Finance Canada, summarized a Toronto symposium on buyouts attended by a department research chief that forecast a continued hike in private equity investments.

"It is expected that large pension fund allocations to private equity will continue to increase and that small pension funds, which have shown some reservation so far, will start participating in that market as they learn from the experiences of large funds," the memo said.

Foreign buyouts of Canadian firms were also expected to remain strong, the note said.

The only obstacle to private equity buyouts of companies that was highlighted in the memo was income trusts.

It told Mr. Hamilton that trusts are considered a "serious competitor" by private equity firms because management at companies targeted for takeover prefer converting to a trust instead of succumbing to private ownership.

"When bidding for the acquisition or takeover of a Canadian company, private equity firms have to deal with the income trust factor," it said.

"Very often, and for obvious reasons, managers will prefer the freedom of action typically associated with widely held, publicly traded entities such as trusts, as opposed to the close supervision exercised by private equity firms," it said.

"Income trusts provide managers with a certain control over business decisions, while offering attractive valuation multiples to equity holders."

The memo also suggested that foreign participation in the leveraged buyout market in Canada was here to stay. "The factors behind this upsurge are likely not cyclical."

The memo stated a "further concentration of ... portfolio" in private equity was expected for major pension funds and the cost of increasingly large buyouts in Canada will require equally large partners "which may not be found in our domestic market."

Finance Canada spokesman David Gamble played down the memo, saying it's merely a summary of one of many conferences attended by his department. "Finance officials attend these kind of meetings to develop the best policies, to make the best recommendations to their minister," he said. "They go to events like this all of the time."

Critics of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty blame the trust tax for a rash of takeovers of trusts and would-be trusts in the wake of the levy. But he has dismissed that notion, saying capital is globally on the prowl for better returns and Canada, like other markets, is simply feeling the impact.


Dr Mike said...

It has been a year & 9 months since Jim Flaherty made his Halloween announcement & the stake thru the heart is no less noticeable.

As I read stories about BCE , Power Corp , Manulife , Teacher`s Pension Fund, Goldman Sachs & many others , I have to come to the conclusion that this was done to open up the playing field to the big boys & shut the door on us lowly everyday investors.

How many votes did Manulife give them?

We , as trust investors , are the voters.

In Canada the voter should be king , so why have we been thrown to the mat like a piece of trash that means absolutely nothing in the scheme of things.

Am I correct in assuming that we are just a means to an end.

This has to stop.

Come next election when the voter temporarily becomes king again , we must show these guys that they have fooled with the wrong group.

Mess with our money & we will mess with you.

Dr Mike Popovich

makethecall said...

The whole process stinks .. the media and most opposition politicians just sit idly by while the entire country gets shafted by these Harper/Flaherty policies.

Anonymous said...

Mark Carney may be the Governor of the Bank of Canada but do his loyalties remain with his former employer, Goldman Sachs? It is a fact that the income taxes paid by those receiving monies from Income Trusts were huge and the Canadian government enjoyed great financial gains. There was no such thing as "tax leakage". However, in condoning the BCE deal, the tax loss to the Revenue Canada will be enormous. Why then did the Dept. of Finance intervene?