Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Our presentation will be on sub-division A of division 3 of part 4, which proposes four amendments to financial institutions legislation. The first two amendments are substantive but targeted, and the last two are corrections.
The first set of amendments, clause 130 to 134, would reduce unnecessary administrative burden for the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, and for financial institutions.
Superintendent approval is required for substantial investment in entities that engage in financial intermediation activities that expose them to market or credit risk, for example, a non-regulated lender. In practice, because OSFI's supervisory framework focuses on material risk, superintendent approval is granted as a matter of course when investments are relatively small.
The proposed amendments would exempt financial institutions from seeking superintendent approval when the value of a proposed investment relative to the value of the acquiring institution is below a materiality threshold, reflecting superintendent practice.
For large financial institutions, the threshold would be 1% for the acquisition of control and 0.5% for non-controlling substantial investments. Corresponding thresholds for small and mid-sized institutions would be twice as large. The objective of the lower threshold for large financial institutions is to ensure that sizeable investments made by large institutions remain subject to prudential approval by the superintendent.
The second set of amendments, clause 135 to 151, would allow financial institutions to indefinitely hold a substantial investment in the Canadian Business Growth Fund. The fund was established by Canada's largest financial institutions following a recommendation of the advisory council on economic growth.
The fund will make long-term, patient, minority investments in small and medium enterprises that have an established customer base and a compelling growth potential. The financial institutions statute generally prohibits financial institutions from acquiring substantial investment in commercial non-financial entities. The amendments would create an exception for this general prohibition.
The amendments would include a number or restrictions to ensure that this new flexibility is circumscribed.
First, to avoid crowding out capital from other sources, the amount of capital that each financial institution is authorized to invest will be limited to $200 million.
Second, to be consistent with existing venture capital rules and to maintain the commercial financial distinction, financial institutions will not be allowed to invest through the fund in regulated financial institutions and in entities that are primarily engaged in leasing or that are acting as insurance brokers or agents.
Finally, third, to ensure the fund remains focused on small and medium enterprises, the total exposure to a single business will be limited to $100 million. These restrictions are consistent with the fund's business plan.
The third set of proposed amendments, clause 152 to 154, would align the legislation with the policy intent of enabling financial institutions to provide information to customers or shareholders electronically. These amendments would make it explicit that consent can be provided electronically.
In conclusion, the purpose of the fourth amendment, which concerns clauses 155 and 156, is to correct an erroneous reference in the English version of the previous Budget Implementation Act from last fall.
Thank you. We will be happy to answer your questions or to provide further details on these proposals.