Netflix fends off criticism over Canada investment

(Reuters) – Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) said on Tuesday it had received formal approval to start a C$ 500 million production unit in Canada and sought to quell talk that it had asked for special tax benefits for investing in its first such unit outside the United States.

The maker of Emmy-winning shows such as The Crown and Black Mirror said last month it was in talks with the Canadian government for an investment over a minimum of five years.

That decision was part of a broad review under Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly, which included plans to modernize funding programs and review copyright, broadcasting and telecommunications legislation.

The government did not tax Netflix as some had proposed, opening the streaming service provider to criticism in Canada. (

Netflix said on Tuesday its Canadian investment was approved under the Investment Canada Act, and that no tax deals were part of the approval to launch its new Canadian presence. But is also said it was not paying sales tax in line with existing Canadian laws.

“Netflix follows tax laws everywhere we operate. Under Canadian law, foreign online services like Netflix aren’t required to collect and remit sales tax,” said Corie Wright, Netflix’s director of global public policy. (

The company also said it would spend an additional C$ 25 million ($ 20 million) over five years toward “market development” in the country, hosting recruitment drives and cultural events to boost the local production community.

Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee; editing by Patrick Graham and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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Upstart fund to launch 'future car' ETF in Canada

TORONTO (Reuters) – A Canadian investment fund will launch the world’s first “future car” exchange-traded fund on Friday, giving investors one-stop access to companies involved in electric, autonomous and connected car supply chains, senior fund executives said.

The Evolve Funds Automobile Innovation Index ETF includes Tesla Inc and other automakers spending heavily on self-driving ambitions as well as battery makers, semiconductor companies and other players to help investors trade on the major changes affecting the automotive industry.

“Five years ago we didn’t have the blind-spot checker, the lane assist, and now you’ve got parking assist; technology has been getting integrated into vehicles to make them safer, it’s just going to intensify,” Evolve Funds Group Inc CEO Raj Lala said in a phone interview.

The 32 equally-weighted stocks that make up the fund’s initial cohort also includes suppliers such as Delphi Automotive Plc and Visteon Corp, semiconductor companies Cirrus Logic Inc, Infineon Technologies AG and Nvidia Corp, hydrogen fuel cell company Plug Power Inc and industrial battery maker EnerSys.

“We’re not trying to pick the one or two winners,” said Elliot Johnson, Evolve’s chief operating officer. “We wanted to make sure we’re making a bet that’s broad, but also specific to the activities that are going on.”

Many of the stocks included have jumped sharply over the last year as the portion of cars with internet connectivity jumps, China and others plan to ban cars than only run on gasoline or diesel, and ridesharing increases in popularity.

“That suggested to us that there’s a lot of investor appetite out there searching for ways to express their belief in the theme,” Johnson said.

Evolve Funds worked with German index provider Solactive AG to create the passively traded model, which will have hedged and unhedged versions priced in Canadian dollars. A U.S.-dollar denominated version will follow within several weeks.

The fund choose the five automakers with the highest research and development to sales ratio, which include Ford Motor Co, General Motors Co, Tesla Inc and Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE).

The ETF is the third instrument Evolve has launched, days after launching cybersecurity and gender diversity products. The fund is also seeking Canadian regulatory approval for one to track bitcoin.

Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by David Gregorio

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Exclusive: Royal Bank of Canada using blockchain for U.S./Canada payments – executive

TORONTO (Reuters) – Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) is experimenting with blockchain to help move payments between its U.S. and Canadian banks, one of the bank’s senior executives told Reuters on Thursday.

Martin Wildberger, RBC’s executive vice president for innovation and technology, said use of distributed ledger technology, or DLT, would improve the speed of payments, reduce complexity and lower costs.

The bank developed the system over the past six months at an RBC blockchain technology center in Toronto, deploying software developed by a cross-industry open-source blockchain consortium known as Hyperledger.

The technology was integrated into RBC’s existing systems several weeks ago as a “shadow” to RBC’s primary ledger, letting the bank monitor payments in real-time as they travel between the United States and Canada, he said.

“We wanted to set it up as a shadow ledger so that we can demonstrate our leadership in exploiting that technology while at the same time recognizing that the technology is still early in its adoption phase,” Wildberger said.

Blockchain emerged in 2009 as the system underpinning the cryptocurrency bitcoin, allowing people to quickly and anonymously exchange electronic currency. It is a shared ledger of transactions maintained by a network of computers rather than a central authority.

Investors have since put billions of dollars into developing blockchain, betting the technology could make banking operations faster, more efficient and more transparent.

Although concerns remain about the legitimacy of bitcoin, which JP Morgan (JP.N) Chief Executive Jamie Dimon described as a fraud earlier this month, the credibility of the blockchain technology itself has increased.

A growing number of senior bankers have said they believe it will eventually revolutionize the way payments are made across the industry, reducing complexity and costs of back-office processes.

“Everybody recognizes blockchain will be transformative and critical,” said Wildberger. “At the same point in time, I think everybody recognizes these are early days.”

RBC is looking to use blockchain to improve its rewards and loyalty offers and trade finance capabilities, he said.

Canada’s central bank said in May that it had decided against using blockchain to provide the underlying infrastructure for the country’s interbank payment system after a year-long investigation, saying “too many hurdles” had to be overcome to make the approach viable.

Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Jim Finkle

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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