Business Bulletins News

IW Business Bulletin – February 18, 2022

Rocanville Potash Facility. Photo provided by Nutrien

Conexus CEO Eric Dillon announces departure

On Feb. 15, Conexus Credit Union CEO Eric Dillon announced he is leaving his role after 10 years. During his tenure, Dillon oversaw the first no-fee account introduced in Saskatchewan by a full-service financial institution, the launch of the Cultivator business incubator, and the first venture capital fund created and managed by a Canadian credit union.

“Eric’s visionary leadership successfully repositioned the organization for the future, and we are incredibly grateful to him for his tremendous contributions to Conexus over the past 10 years. Eric devoted a decade of his career as our CEO and in that time redefined what it means to be a financial co-operative, pioneering several innovative and incredibly successful projects, propelling Conexus to its position as the award-winning credit union it is today,” said Joel Mowchenko, Conexus Credit Union’s board chair.

Dillon departs his role on February 21, 2022. Neil Cooper, Conexus CFO, has been named interim CEO until a new CEO is found.

Conexus Cultivator celebrates three years

Cultivator powered by Conexus (Cultivator) celebrated its three-year anniversary on Feb 15. Since its launch in 2019, the Regina-based tech incubator has seen its companies generate more than $14 million in revenue and create over 300 jobs. Cultivator’s incubated companies have raised a total of $22.8 million private capital and acquired $23.1 million in public funding.

“Cultivator is home to some of the fastest-growing tech startups in the Canadian prairies,” said Jordan McFarlen, Incubator Manager, Cultivator. “We’re seeing more distribution of high-growth companies, founders staying in our province to launch and grow their companies, and an increase in venture capital investments for Saskatchewan startups. The results and growth we are seeing from the past three years is astronomical, and we’re so proud to be supporting our founders through this journey.”

PFM Capital invests in Saskatchewan beauty company Surface Hair Health Art

Regina-based equity firm PFM Capital (along with Roynat Equity Partners) has invested in GHC Systems Inc., the company behind local beauty brand Surface Hair Health Art. Launched in 2008, Surface Hair creates and sells a line of salon-quality, high-performance hair care products.

“We are excited to partner with PFM and Roynat in the growth of Surface! Our partnership provides for the highest level of continued product innovation and support for salons,” said Wayne Grund, Surface Hair’s CEO and founder.

The PFM investment, made through its Apex III Investment Fund Limited Partnership, will allow Surface hair to build its brand awareness and further business growth opportunities.

“PFM is proud to partner with Wayne Grund and the Surface team as they continue to execute on their growth strategy,” said Jardin Schnurr, Director of Investments at PFM Capital Inc. “PFM, Roynat, and Surface share similar values and a continued focus on delivering product innovation and support to salons and customers.”

Nutrien reports Q4 results

On Feb. 16, Nutrien Ltd. reported the company’s Q4 2021 results, with net earnings of $1.2 billion (record adjusted EBITDA of $2.5 billion), with $3.2 billion of net earnings ($5.52 diluted net earnings per share) and record adjusted EBITDA of $7.1 billion ($6.23 adjusted net earnings per share) for the full year of 2021. Cash flow provided by operating activities in the full year was $3.9 billion.

“The advantages of Nutrien’s integrated business were demonstrated in 2021 as we delivered record financial results and made significant progress on our long-term strategic targets, including our key sustainability priorities. We utilized the scale and reliability of our world-class supply chain and the strong execution of our teams to ensure customers had the products and services they needed, when they needed them,” said Ken Seitz, Nutrien interim president and CEO. “The outlook for global agriculture and crop input markets is very strong and we are well positioned to deliver significant growth in earnings and free cash flow in 2022. We will continue to advance our strategic priorities and maintain a disciplined approach to deploying capital, using our strong financial position to grow the business and return significant cash to shareholders.”

Nutrien noted that global potash prices have increased due to record global demand of 70 million in 2021 and tightness of supply because of competitor mine flooding, new project delays and uncertainty around sanctions imposed on Belarus by the US and Europe. The company indicated they believe these supply issues will continue into 2022, including additional restrictions imposed on Belarus potash transported through Lithuania. Nutrien  estimates 2022 global shipments will range from 68 to 71 million tonnes, and expects record potash sales volumes between 13.7 to 14.3 million tonnes in 2022. Nutrien bases this forecast on assumptions that sanctions on Belarus have a temporary impact on global supply. If impacts appear to be longer-term, the company can ramp up further production with more staff and some  incremental capital expenditures.

ISC announces annual guidance

Information Services Corporation (ISC) released its outlook and annual guidance for 2022 on Feb. 17. The company expects revenues of $168.0 million and $173.0 million, with a net income between $23.0 million and $27.0 million. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (“EBITDA”) is expected to be between $48.0 million and $53.0 million.

ISC sees further strength in its two largest lines of business, Registry Operations and Services, noting both gave benefitted from good economic conditions in 2021. The company does not expect the good economic activity seen in 2021 to continue indefinitely but predicts 2022 will exceed pre-pandemic levels.

Royal Helium reports results

Royal Helium Ltd. reported positive results from work at its Climax-4 Nazare Zone on Feb. 16. Its testing program at the Climax-4 well found 0.57 per cent helium over the 100 metre interval, and “the helium grade is consistent with initial (DST) tests and commercial grades in the region.” Royal Helium will now move onto the next phase in the region, with simulation modelling and development scenarios.

Two days later, the company announced it has begun two seismic programs at its Climax/Nazare and Val Marie blocks. Test results from this work will determine the 2022 drilling programs for the company.

Royal controls over 1,000,000 acres of prospective helium land in southwestern and southeast Saskatchewan.

Gold Royalty adds to board

Vancouver-based Gold Royalty Corp. has appointed Kari Howlett to the company’s board of directors. Howlett, principal at Karri Howlett Consulting, has been consulting in environmental, social, governance and business since 2006, is also a director of the Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership, NexGen Energy Ltd. and March Consulting Associates Inc. She also held a board position at SaskPower from 2013 to 2021, chairing the Safety, Environment and Corporate Responsibility Committee. She was also previously the president and a director of RESPEC Consulting Inc. in Saskatoon.

“On behalf of the Board, I would like to welcome Karri to the Gold Royalty team. With over 20 years of experience in ESG, financial diligence and risk management, she brings a valuable and unique additional perspective to our Board. We look forward to working with Karri as we continue to move forward and execute our growth plans,” said David Garofalo, chairman and CEO, Gold Royalty.

Gold Royalty Corp. is a gold-focused royalty company offering creative financing solutions to the metals and mining industry.

Foran Mining receives permits

Foran Mining Corp. has received permits for initial construction at its McIlvenna Bay Project near Flin Flon. The permits are for an exploration decline at the project for its pre-development program. The underground development with the decline is expected to be approximately 1,475 metres. When completed, Foran Mining will extract a 4,400 tonne sample for testing, and conduct underground drilling.

The related land clearing, earthworks and civil construction will be conducted by Hanson Lake Northern JV, a partnership between Peter Ballantyne Group of Companies, CPI Construction and ThreeoSix Industrial.

“The construction of an exploration decline represents a significant key pre-construction project for Foran that will de-risk the timeline and capital costs to first production at McIlvenna Bay. We are pleased to be working on this project with the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation and create benefits for the local economy. With the program now underway, we are very excited for a catalyst-rich year at Foran that includes a pending feasibility study, an exciting regional exploration campaign, and updates on the development of our pioneering ESG business approach. We look forward to sharing the results from all our ongoing initiatives throughout 2022,” said Foran Mining CEO Dan Myerson.

High-speed internet announced for rural Saskatchewan

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada announced on Feb. 17 that the Universal Broadband Fund’s (UBF) Rapid Response Stream will provide nearly $6.6 million in funding to 10 projects in Saskatchewan for the development of high-speed internet. The projects include:

  • $2.4 million for FlexNetworks for a project benefiting the communities of Neuhorst, Bradwell, Shields, Thode and Neuanlage as well as rural areas near the village of Clavet
  • $1.29 million for Prairie Crocus Rural Internet for a project benefiting the communities of Water Park Estates, Eagle Ridge Country Estates, Aberdeen and Shields
  • $528,909 for Access Communications Cooperative Limited for a project benefitting the communities of Macklin and Shaunavon
  • $458,271 for Muscowpetung Saulteaux Nation
  • $1.9 million for Beardy’s & Okemasis’ Cree Nation

“This $6.6 million in federal funding to improve high-speed Internet will mean faster, more reliable, and efficient Internet service for Saskatchewan residents. Whether it’s students in online classes, virtual meetings from the kitchen table, or streaming our favourite movies, this pandemic has shown us just how essential reliable Internet access has become. Our government understands how vital it is, for families and businesses, to connect rural and remote regions all across Canada, including in Saskatchewan,” said Hon. Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.

Saskatchewan sees record ag exports in 2021

On Feb. 14, the Government of Saskatchewan announces that the province’s agricultural exports were worth $17.5 billion in 2021, a new record. 2021 saw an increase of nearly seven percent from the $16.4 billion record set in 2020. The major agri-food exports from Saskatchewan continue to be canola seed, canola oil, non-durum wheat, lentils, durum and dry peas, with exports headed to the United States, China, Japan and Mexico.

Next week: RBC Q1 earnings on February 24 and CIBC on February 25.

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