Marathon Oil Closes Acquisition of Northern Delaware Acreage and Sale of Canadian Business

HOUSTON, June 01, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Marathon Oil Corporation (NYSE: MRO) announced today it has closed the acquisition of approximately 21,000 net surface acres in the Northern Delaware basin of New Mexico from Black Mountain Oil & Gas and other private sellers for $700 million, excluding closing adjustments. The effective date of this transaction is March 1, 2017. Combined with the acquisition from BC Operating, which closed May 1, Marathon Oil’s total position in the Permian Basin is 91,000 net surface acres.

On May 31, the Company closed on the sale of its Canadian subsidiary to Shell and Canadian Natural Resources Limited for a total transaction value of $2.5 billion in cash, excluding closing adjustments. Marathon Oil received proceeds of approximately $1.75 billion, with the remaining proceeds to be paid in first quarter 2018. The effective date of the transaction is Jan. 1, 2017. The Canadian sale includes the Company’s 20 percent non-operated interest in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP).

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This release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. All statements, other than statements of historical fact, including statements regarding the payment of the remaining proceeds, are forward-looking statements. While the Company believes its assumptions concerning future events are reasonable, certain factors could cause actual results to differ from those projected. Except as required by law, the Company undertakes no obligation to revise or update any forward-looking statements as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Media Relations Contact
Lee Warren: 713-296-4103

Investor Relations Contact
Zach Dailey: 713-296-4140

Canada’s housing chief says no evidence of widespread mortgage fraud

* CMHC chief says needs to remain vigilant

* Says problem not pervasive within industry

* CMHC seeking more data on private lenders
(Adds comments on Home Capital, less regulated lenders)

By Matt Scuffham

TORONTO, June 1 The head of Canada’s housing
agency, whose responsibilities include maintaining the stability
of the country’s housing market, said on Thursday there was no
evidence of widespread fraud in Canada’s mortgage industry.

Home Capital, one of Canada’s biggest mortgage lenders, has
scaled back on lending to focus on repairing its balance sheet
following rapid deposit withdrawals after a management shake-up
and accusations brought by a regional regulator that it had
misled investors about its mortgage business. The company has
said the accusations are without merit.

“There is not evidence that fraud is a widespread problem
within the industry but we know it happens. It’s very hard to
find and incentives exist for frauding the system so we need to
be vigilant,” Evan Siddall, chief executive of Canada Mortgage
and Housing Corp (CMHC) told reporters.

“We don’t think this is a pervasive problem in Canada. It is
a discreet issue,” he added.

CMHC is responsible for insuring the bulk of Canadian
mortgages issued by banks and other big lenders.

Steve Mennill, senior vice president, insurance at CMHC said
it had seen “no unusual level of defaults associated with Home
Capital.”

Siddall said the CMHC is working with the Canadian Bankers
Association to get more data on how much lending is being done
by lenders not regulated by Canada’s main financial regulator.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that Home Capital’s problems
were pushing more borrowers toward less regulated mortgage
providers, raising the risks for them and the wider property
market.

In an earlier speech to business leaders in Toronto, Siddall
said that Canadians will continue to struggle to afford new
homes unless more is done to address supply issues as economic
growth and new immigrants ramp up demand for homes.

“Canada’s housing affordability challenge will only get
worse without more and faster supply. Urbanization is a global
trend and Canada’s embrace of immigrants will add to the future
need for housing, particularly in our cities,” he said.

Canadian authorities have taken a number of measures to try
to cool rampant housing markets, particularly in the cities of
Vancouver and Toronto, which has seen a 33 percent price rise in
the past year. The increases have raised concerns many Canadians
have been priced out of the market.

Canada’s Liberal government has said it plans to invest
C$11.2 billion ($8.3 billion) in new housing over the next 11
years.
($1 = 1.3483 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Lisa
Shumaker)

Canadian activist West Face declares stake in Britain’s FirstGroup


Canadian activist investor West Face Capital on Thursday disclosed a 5 percent stake in FirstGroup (FGP.L) after the British transport company’s shares fell more than 5 percent.

FirstGroup on Thursday reported a 23 percent rise in annual profit, helped by better performance from its U.S. business, but a cautious outlook and a decision not to pay a dividend sent its shares into retreat.


Toronto-based West Face has previously taken stakes in companies such as Maple Leaf Foods (MFI.TO) and SNC-Lavalin Group (SNC.TO).

(Reporting by Simon Jessop and Maiya Keidan; Editing by David Goodman)

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Canadian Western Bank sees increased mortgage demand

Canadian Western Bank
said on Thursday it was experiencing higher-than normal demand
for mortgages as a result of challenges faced by its largest
competitor, Home Capital Group.

Home Capital has scaled back on lending to focus on
repairing its balance sheet following rapid deposit withdrawals
after a management shake-up and accusations brought by a
regional regulator that it had misled investors about its
mortgage business. The company has said the accusations are
without merit.

Canadian Western Bank, based in Canada’s oil-rich Alberta
province, said in a statement alongside its second-quarter
results that it is being very selective in approving new loans.

The bank said impaired loans within its mortgage book are
expected to increase in view of softer housing market
conditions, particularly in Alberta. It said it is continuing to
carefully monitor its entire mortgage portfolio for signs of
weakness.

Canadian authorities have taken a number of measures to cool
housing markets including tightening rules on mortgage
underwriting following sharp rises in prices, particularly in
the cities of Vancouver and Toronto.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that Home Capital’s struggles
were pushing more borrowers towards less regulated mortgage
providers, raising the risks for them and the wider property
market.

Canadian Western Bank reported second-quarter earnings which
were ahead of market expectations and up 44 percent on the
previous year, during which it had been impacted by the weak oil
price.

The bank reported earnings per share, excluding one-off
items, of C$0.59 compared with C$0.41 a year ago. Analysts had
on average expected earnings of C$0.57, according to Thomson
Reuters I/B/E/S data.

Last year’s performance was impacted by the bank setting
aside funds to cover bad loans to clients in the energy sector
struggling as a result of very low oil and gas prices.

(Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Canadian mayors press Liberals to fast-track affordable housing funding

The head of the federal agency crafting a national housing strategy says the plan will be far more ambitious than just building homes and is looking to close the equality gap between the haves and have-nots.

In a speech Thursday, Evan Siddall, CEO of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., said the forthcoming plan would increase housing supply — up to 80,000 new affordable rental units, for instance — grow the economy and potentially double overall spending with help from the private sector.

Story continues below

Evan Siddall said CMHC aims to use $5 billion earmarked in the 2017 federal budget to stimulate over $16 billion of investments over 11 years in affordable housing, including increases in CMHC direct lending of $8 billion and $2.9 billion of matching co-investments from housing providers, governments and the private sector.

The extra $10.9 billion, if it were to come to fruition, would be above the $11.2 billion package the Liberals unveiled in their second budget.

“Inequality threatens the very fabric of western society,” Siddall said during the speech in Toronto.

“I’ll be so bold as to suggest that this strategy is being created precisely to diminish the inequity that we see growing in our communities daily – to close the gap between ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’.”

READ MORE: Federal budget 2017: Big investment in affordable housing, nothing to cool red-hot markets 

The comments are a change of tone from Siddall, who months ago tried to temper high expectations that the strategy would meet hopes that a national plan would move people out of shelters and into homes, increase the stock of affordable housing — an area the federal government has retreated from over the last three decades — and deal with concerns about affordability in the country’s biggest cities.

They also come as the government faces pressure from local officials to get the housing money to them faster than planned. At the moment, most of the cash won’t flow to cities until after 2022.

Representatives from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities are sitting down with cabinet ministers at their annual meeting to urge the Liberals to find a way to shift spending forward.

IN-DEPTH: Affordable housing in Canada

“We’ve been talking about this affordable housing crisis and particularly (the) social housing crisis, for almost a decade and we can’t wait for year 11 of the $81-billion plan to really see dollars flow,” Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said in an interview ahead of the meetings.

“There’s an opportunity to act with more urgency for housing and so we’ll continue to press that point.”

Iveson, who chairs the federation’s big-city mayors caucus, said cities have projects ready to go to either upgrade the existing stock of affordable housing, some of which is in desperate need of repair, or build new units to alleviate long waiting lists for units in the country’s biggest cities.

Without details about the federal program, those projects can’t move forward, Iveson said.

READ MORE: ‘I’ve given up’: Affordable housing crisis intensifies in Canada 

Conservative infrastructure critic Dianne Watts said the Liberals needed to offer immediate support and not wait years while Canadians are being priced out of markets like Vancouver and Toronto today.

“Communities need significant support and there are a series of serious problems with the Liberals’ infrastructure plan that need to be urgently addressed.”

A Commons committee studying anti-poverty strategies recommended the government also rejig existing housing programs to expand eligibility and flexibility in how communities spend funding through the housing first program. Conservatives on the committee in a dissenting report urged tax reforms and federal push-back on municipal red tape and “snob zoning” that blocked or delayed affordable housing construction. New Democrats asked the Liberals to make housing a human right — something the government has consistently rejected.

The money can’t flow without provinces signing on to funding agreements.

The Liberals intend to cover up to 40 per cent of municipal transit projects under the upcoming phase of the plan and mayors are hoping provinces agree to cover a similar share of the cost.

Iveson said the federal government will need to make that case despite the fact that provinces are wrestling with their own complicated political and fiscal realities.



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Canada helps firms hit by U.S. lumber tax, American lobby fumes

By David Ljunggren



OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada will give C$867 million (US$642.22 million) in aid to the softwood lumber industry after the United States imposed duties on exports and is prepared to offer more help in future, the government said on Thursday.



Washington in April imposed preliminary anti-subsidy duties averaging 20 percent on imports of Canadian softwood lumber. U.S. producers say the exports are unfairly subsidized, a charge Canada strongly denies.



“Canadian workers are under pressure because of duties which are unfair and punitive… we’re not going to let those Canadian workers, those Canadian families, be hurt and stand idly by. We’re going to help,” said Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.



The dispute has increased tensions between Canada and the United States ahead of talks on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico is also a member of the pact.



Most of the aid – up to C$605 million – will be in the form of loans, loan guarantees and commercial financing. Reuters revealed the outlines of the package on Wednesday. [L1N1IX23K]



The government stresses the package is trade compliant. Any hint Ottawa is offering a subsidy to the industry could provoke a U.S. challenge.



“We are prepared to take further action, including additional loan guarantees, to address changing market conditions,” Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr told a news conference, flanked by Freeland.



The U.S. Lumber Coalition, a vocal alliance of lumber producers, attacked what it called a subsidy that “only further tilts the trade scale in Canada’s favor.”
  Continued…


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Canadian auto sales surge to record high in May

(Adds data for Ford and Fiat Chrysler, analyst commentary)

By Allison Lampert

Canadian auto sales hit a
record high in May, with General Motors Co and Ford Motor
Co on Thursday reporting double-digit increases, fueled by
demand for crossovers and light trucks, according to analysts
who compile the monthly data.

One economist attributed the record May sales to discounting
among the large automakers in a fight for market share.

Automakers sold 216,861 vehicles in May, a number which
“smashed all previous monthly records,” and was up 11 percent
compared with the same month a year earlier, Canadian auto
analyst Dennis DesRosiers wrote in a note.

Year-to-date auto sales in Canada reached 835,582 units
representing a 4.7 percent increase over the previous year,
DesRosiers wrote.

Scotiabank senior economist Carlos Gomes attributed the
strong May sales figures to discounting. “I would call it
incentive heaven,” he said by phone from Toronto.

Gomes said he now expects another record-breaking year for
Canadian auto sales. He plans to revise his April forecast that
said Canadian auto sales would decline slightly in 2017 to about
1.94 million vehicles, from a record-breaking 1.97 million units
in 2016.

By contrast, in the United States, automakers reported sales
fell 1 percent from a year ago. This brought the annualized
sales pace down to 16.66 million cars and light trucks from
17.17 million vehicles a year ago, according to figures compiled
by Motor Intelligence.

“We’re going to have to increase our Canadian forecast and
reduce our U.S. forecast,” Gomes said.

In Canada, Ford reported the sale of 34,486 vehicles, up 17
percent compared with the same month a year earlier and the best
sales for a month of May since 1989.

General Motors said it sold 31,149 vehicles in Canada last
month, a 36 percent rise compared with a year earlier, fueled by
demand for crossovers and light trucks.

The company added that was its best performance for May in
eight years. It contrasted with a 16.4 percent drop in sales in
May 2016 versus the year-earlier period.

Fiat Chrysler said it sold 33,186 vehicles, up 5
percent from May 2016 and the highest monthly Canadian sales in
its history.
(Reporting by Allison Lampert; Editing by Jim Finkle and James
Dalgleish)


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Canada says it is disappointed on U.S. decision on Paris pact


Canada is “deeply disappointed”
by U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the
Paris climate accord, but will push ahead with measures to fight
global warming, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said on
Thursday.


“Canada is deeply disappointed at the U.S. position. The
Paris agreement is a good deal for Canada and it’s a good deal
for the world,” a grim-faced McKenna told reporters. “No one
country can stop action on climate change.”
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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Go to Source

Canada giving C$867 million to help those hit by U.S. lumber tax

By David Ljunggren



OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada will give C$867 million (US$642.22 million) in aid to the softwood lumber industry after the United States imposed duties on exports and is prepared to offer more help in future, the government said on Thursday.



Washington in April imposed preliminary anti-subsidy duties averaging 20 percent on imports of Canadian softwood lumber. U.S. producers say the exports are unfairly subsidized, a charge Canada strongly denies.



“Canadian workers are under pressure because of duties which are unfair and punitive… we’re not going to let those Canadian workers, those Canadian families, be hurt and stand idly by. We’re going to help,” said Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.



The dispute has increased tensions between Canada and the United States ahead of talks on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico is also a member of the pact.



Most of the aid – up to C$605 million – will be in the form of loans, loan guarantees and commercial financing. Reuters revealed the outlines of the package on Wednesday. [L1N1IX23K]



The government stresses the package is trade compliant. Any hint Ottawa is offering a subsidy to the industry could provoke a U.S. challenge.



“We are prepared to take further action, including additional loan guarantees, to address changing market conditions,” Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr told a news conference, flanked by Freeland.



The U.S. Lumber Coalition, a vocal alliance of lumber producers, attacked what it called a subsidy that “only further tilts the trade scale in Canada’s favor.”
  Continued…


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Canada’s Green Party looks to build political sway beyond British Columbia

By Leah Schnurr



OTTAWA (Reuters) – The surprise role of power-broker played by British Columbia’s Green Party in the provincial election, which has pushed the party up in national polls, has seen an increase in people looking to run as candidates against Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, the federal Green leader said.



Greens in the Pacific Coast province, with just three seats in the knife-edge May 9 election, joined forces with the New Democrat Party (NDP) on May 29 to unseat the incumbent Liberals who had been in power for 16 years.



The Greens were wooed by both sides for two heady weeks before pitching their lot with the NDP, which agreed to take up issues they have in common in return for the support.



The Greens’ ability to govern alongside the left-leaning New Democrats will serve as a litmus test for other provincial and federal parties ahead of next year’s election in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, and a national election in 2019.



The party says it has long suffered from would-be supporters voting for parties they see as more likely to hold power.



“We’ve been fighting for years against the notion that a Green vote is a wasted vote,” federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May, the only Green member of Parliament, told Reuters.



“(Now) citizens across Canada get used to the idea that electing Greens actually helps you get better government.”



The spotlight on the Green Party in British Columbia helped drive the federal party, which has just one seat in Parliament, up in polls. Support for the federal Greens surged to 7.2 percent for the week ending May 26, according to Nanos Research, up from 4.2 percent the week ending May 5, just before the election.
  Continued…


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