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Laliberte calls 'social' space mission a success

October 13, 2009

guy_laliberte_space_suit(2)

Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte said Tuesday his mission was accomplished after a 10-day trip to the International Space Station where he hosted a global web broadcast that featured rock stars and politicians.

The Canadian billionaire, dubbed the first clown in space, said his $35 million (U.S.) trip was an effective “marketing tool to put the One Drop Foundation on the map.” The non-profit group promotes access to clean water worldwide.

Among those appearing on the Oct. 9 broadcast from Earth were former U.S. vice-president Al Gore, U2 and Shakira. Laliberte had billed his trip into space as a “poetical social mission.”

“Mission accomplished,” Laliberte told reporters at the cosmonaut training centre outside Moscow. “I still have to evaluate the impact internationally, but so far it looks like a great success.”

The one-time stilt-walker and fire-eater, who wore a bulbous clown nose during his stay aboard the International Space Station, said he experienced only one scary moment during the his return trip to Earth, as the Soyuz capsule re-entered the atmosphere and plunged toward the planet.

Laliberte landed in the barren northern steppe of Kazakhstan on Sunday with NASA astronaut Michael Barratt and Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, who spent six months aboard the space station.

At Tuesday’s news conference, Barratt pointed out that he was for a time one of two physicians aboard the orbiting laboratory. “Having two doctors aboard was a bit dangerous for the crew,” he joked in Russian.

Padalka jokingly told reporters that the crew aboard the space station enjoyed “complete freedom and democracy, except for anarchy,” during Laliberte’s stay there.

“Surprisingly, everything went smoothly,” he said adding that the crew ate lunch in the Russian segment of the space station and dinner in the U.S. segment.

The mammoth station consists of 10 modules built by the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and the 18-member European Space Agency.

Laliberte may be among the last space tourists for several years, with NASA planning to retire its shuttle fleet next year. After that, it would rely on Russia to ferry U.S. astronauts to the station – meaning fewer extra seats for trips to the orbiting lab.

“The crew now consists of six people, and all the seats have been taken by professional cosmonauts,” the head of the cosmonaut training centre, Sergei Krikalyov, said Tuesday.

In June, Google co-founder and Russian native Sergei Brin said he paid $5 million to reserve a flight in 2011 to the space station.

Quebec-born Laliberte, 50, founded Cirque du Soleil in 1984, and is worth an estimated $2.5 billion.

He is the second of three Canadians to orbit the Earth in the same year. Robert Thirsk has been aboard the space station since May, and Julie Payette was there in July.

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Canada Stock Sales Hit Record as Miners Tap Market

October 8, 2009

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Canadian companies sold a record $34.8 billion in stock this year as mining firms such as Barrick Gold Corp. took advantage of a market rebound to raise cash.

With three months left in the year, Canadian stock sales have already surpassed the previous record of $34.5 billion raised in all of 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg going back to 1999.

Canadian companies are selling common stock and preferred shares as the nation’s benchmark stock index rebounds from a five-year low. The S&P/TSX Composite Index rose 23 percent this year before today, and soared 46 percent from a March 9 trough, as investors stepped up stock purchases.

“We’re in the sweet spot for equity markets,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall MacDougall & MacTier Inc. in Toronto, which manages about C$4 billion ($3.7 billion).

Canada’s economy will grow more in 2010 than previously forecast led by commodity prices that have rebounded ahead of a global recovery, the International Monetary Fund said in its World Economic Outlook report yesterday.

Gold mining was the largest source of equity financing in Canada this year, led by Barrick Gold’s $4 billion sale last month, a Canadian record. Kinross Gold Corp., Canada’s third- largest gold producer, raised $414.6 million in January.

Open Markets

“Given the size of some of the deals we’ve seen recently, I’d say those markets are open and I’d say there are a lot of generalist investors today looking at gold exposure,” Kinross Chief Executive Officer Tye Burt said in a Sept. 28 interview. “There’ll probably be more appetite for new issues.”

CIBC is the top bank for stock sales this year, helping raise $5.17 billion, followed by RBC Capital Markets, with $5.16 billion, according to Bloomberg. Scotia Capital ranked third at $4.38 billion, followed by TD Securities and BMO Capital Markets. Rankings are based on sales of stock, preferred shares and convertible bonds.

“Cash is coming off the sidelines as investors are looking for riskier assets and higher returns,” said Sante Corona, head of equity capital markets at TD Securities in Toronto. “Investors are investing that cash in the stock market and the new issue market.”

IPO Rebound

Initial public offerings also rebounded from a year ago, driven by IPOs from mortgage insurer Genworth MI Canada Inc. and power-plant operator Capital Power Corp. Montreal-based retailer Dollarama Inc. plans to raise about C$300 million next week in Canada’s third-biggest IPO this year.

Canadian companies raised $1.37 billion in initial stock sales this year, from $772 million in the same period a year ago.

Still, the pace of stock sales may slow after the surge this year, said Roman Dubczak, head of equity capital markets at CIBC.

“We’re at the stage where the supply might be drying up to some extent,” said Dubczak. “That will have to be driven by general economic expansion and financing of capital expenditures” and mergers.

The value of equity financings rose 55 percent in the first three quarters of the year from the same period a year ago, according to Bloomberg data. The number of transactions fell 23 percent to 408 from 529.

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Canada Stock Sales Hit Record as Miners Tap Market

October 8, 2009

CBUSINESS-US-MARKETS-CANADA-STOCKS


Canadian companies sold a record $34.8 billion in stock this year as mining firms such as Barrick Gold Corp. took advantage of a market rebound to raise cash.

With three months left in the year, Canadian stock sales have already surpassed the previous record of $34.5 billion raised in all of 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg going back to 1999.

Canadian companies are selling common stock and preferred shares as the nation’s benchmark stock index rebounds from a five-year low. The S&P/TSX Composite Index rose 23 percent this year before today, and soared 46 percent from a March 9 trough, as investors stepped up stock purchases.

“We’re in the sweet spot for equity markets,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall MacDougall & MacTier Inc. in Toronto, which manages about C$4 billion ($3.7 billion).

Canada’s economy will grow more in 2010 than previously forecast led by commodity prices that have rebounded ahead of a global recovery, the International Monetary Fund said in its World Economic Outlook report yesterday.

Gold mining was the largest source of equity financing in Canada this year, led by Barrick Gold’s $4 billion sale last month, a Canadian record. Kinross Gold Corp., Canada’s third- largest gold producer, raised $414.6 million in January.

Open Markets

“Given the size of some of the deals we’ve seen recently, I’d say those markets are open and I’d say there are a lot of generalist investors today looking at gold exposure,” Kinross Chief Executive Officer Tye Burt said in a Sept. 28 interview. “There’ll probably be more appetite for new issues.”

CIBC is the top bank for stock sales this year, helping raise $5.17 billion, followed by RBC Capital Markets, with $5.16 billion, according to Bloomberg. Scotia Capital ranked third at $4.38 billion, followed by TD Securities and BMO Capital Markets. Rankings are based on sales of stock, preferred shares and convertible bonds.

“Cash is coming off the sidelines as investors are looking for riskier assets and higher returns,” said Sante Corona, head of equity capital markets at TD Securities in Toronto. “Investors are investing that cash in the stock market and the new issue market.”

IPO Rebound

Initial public offerings also rebounded from a year ago, driven by IPOs from mortgage insurer Genworth MI Canada Inc. and power-plant operator Capital Power Corp. Montreal-based retailer Dollarama Inc. plans to raise about C$300 million next week in Canada’s third-biggest IPO this year.

Canadian companies raised $1.37 billion in initial stock sales this year, from $772 million in the same period a year ago.

Still, the pace of stock sales may slow after the surge this year, said Roman Dubczak, head of equity capital markets at CIBC.

“We’re at the stage where the supply might be drying up to some extent,” said Dubczak. “That will have to be driven by general economic expansion and financing of capital expenditures” and mergers.

The value of equity financings rose 55 percent in the first three quarters of the year from the same period a year ago, according to Bloomberg data. The number of transactions fell 23 percent to 408 from 529.

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Canada Stock Sales Hit Record as Miners Tap Market

October 8, 2009

CBUSINESS-US-MARKETS-CANADA-STOCKS


Canadian companies sold a record $34.8 billion in stock this year as mining firms such as Barrick Gold Corp. took advantage of a market rebound to raise cash.

With three months left in the year, Canadian stock sales have already surpassed the previous record of $34.5 billion raised in all of 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg going back to 1999.

Canadian companies are selling common stock and preferred shares as the nation’s benchmark stock index rebounds from a five-year low. The S&P/TSX Composite Index rose 23 percent this year before today, and soared 46 percent from a March 9 trough, as investors stepped up stock purchases.

“We’re in the sweet spot for equity markets,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall MacDougall & MacTier Inc. in Toronto, which manages about C$4 billion ($3.7 billion).

Canada’s economy will grow more in 2010 than previously forecast led by commodity prices that have rebounded ahead of a global recovery, the International Monetary Fund said in its World Economic Outlook report yesterday.

Gold mining was the largest source of equity financing in Canada this year, led by Barrick Gold’s $4 billion sale last month, a Canadian record. Kinross Gold Corp., Canada’s third- largest gold producer, raised $414.6 million in January.

Open Markets

“Given the size of some of the deals we’ve seen recently, I’d say those markets are open and I’d say there are a lot of generalist investors today looking at gold exposure,” Kinross Chief Executive Officer Tye Burt said in a Sept. 28 interview. “There’ll probably be more appetite for new issues.”

CIBC is the top bank for stock sales this year, helping raise $5.17 billion, followed by RBC Capital Markets, with $5.16 billion, according to Bloomberg. Scotia Capital ranked third at $4.38 billion, followed by TD Securities and BMO Capital Markets. Rankings are based on sales of stock, preferred shares and convertible bonds.

“Cash is coming off the sidelines as investors are looking for riskier assets and higher returns,” said Sante Corona, head of equity capital markets at TD Securities in Toronto. “Investors are investing that cash in the stock market and the new issue market.”

IPO Rebound

Initial public offerings also rebounded from a year ago, driven by IPOs from mortgage insurer Genworth MI Canada Inc. and power-plant operator Capital Power Corp. Montreal-based retailer Dollarama Inc. plans to raise about C$300 million next week in Canada’s third-biggest IPO this year.

Canadian companies raised $1.37 billion in initial stock sales this year, from $772 million in the same period a year ago.

Still, the pace of stock sales may slow after the surge this year, said Roman Dubczak, head of equity capital markets at CIBC.

“We’re at the stage where the supply might be drying up to some extent,” said Dubczak. “That will have to be driven by general economic expansion and financing of capital expenditures” and mergers.

The value of equity financings rose 55 percent in the first three quarters of the year from the same period a year ago, according to Bloomberg data. The number of transactions fell 23 percent to 408 from 529.

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Cirque founder arrives at space station

October 7, 2009

cirque1He wore an ear-to-ear grin and his signature clown nose. Guy Laliberté, Canada’s first space tourist, greeted Earth from his orbital outpost early this morning after successfully arriving at the International Space Station. Looking chipper as he floated alongside the station’s astronauts, Mr. Laliberté waved and chatted with his wife and children in a press conference with Russian Mission Control outside Moscow. His Russian spacecraft successfully docked at his home-away-from-home after a two-day trip from Earth. Asked by ground control how he was feeling, Mr. Laliberté responded: “Pretty good, actually.” He joked that he was happy to be there but wouldn’t be staying for months. Mr. Laliberté, a Quebec-born billionaire and self-described first clown in space, docked smoothly at the station, 350 kilometres above Earth. The hatches later opened and he boarded, smiling broadly, with his Russian and American crewmates.

The voyage marks the fulfilment of a personal dream for Mr. Laliberté, a onetime stilt walker who went on to found one of the most successful entertainment enterprises on Earth, the Cirque du Soleil. Mr. Laliberté, who spent five months in training before powering off on the Russian spacecraft with his two co-travellers, will be at the space station for 10 days. He’s using the sojourn to promote his clean-water foundation and orchestrate a live show back on Earth next week. Billed as the “first social and artistic mission to be carried out from space,” the show will be presented in 14 cities around the world and feature notable earthlings such as U2, Peter Gabriel and former U.S. vice-president Al Gore.

Mr. Laliberté isn’t the only Canadian aloft these days. When he enters the space station he will join astronaut Robert Thirsk, who is on his 129th day of a six-month mission at the space station. Mr. Thirsk is conducting experiments as part of Canada’s first long-duration space mission. Not everyone is enamoured with Mr. Laliberté’s trip. Prof. Yves Gingras, who holds the Canada Research Chair in the history and sociology of science, says Mr. Laliberté’s mission underscores the “scientific uselessness” of the space station. The costly outpost has limited room, and the billionaire is taking up a spot that could have been filled by a scientist, he said. “I have nothing against Mr. Laliberté. He can do what he wants with his millions,” said Prof. Gingras, who teaches at the University of Quebec in Montreal. “But we didn’t build the space station so we could say, ‘Great! Let’s send a billionaire up there!’ By taking him there, it just confirms what many critics are saying: That there is no science taking place there. This further undermines its scientific credibility.” But experts say Mr. Laliberté is merely following in the footsteps of other space-bound entrepreneurs – he is the world’s seventh paying space sightseer – in putting his fortune into fulfilling his personal ambitions.

His ticket to ride aboard Russia’s Soyuz rocket cost $35 million. Unlike his space-tourist predecessors, however, he is not a “geek,” said Keith Cowing, editor at NASA Watch web site. “He’s the first person whose sole claim to being there is that he’s a performance artist,” Mr. Cowing said. “He was amazingly successful at it, and that’s what gave him the resources to get there.” Though deep pockets are a prerequisite, it also requires determination and rigorous training, he added. “It’s not like he decided to go on a cruise. You’ve got to have this tenacity to go.” Accompanying Mr. Laliberté for his two-day trip to the space station were astronauts Maxim Surayev of Russia and Jeffrey Williams from the United States. Mr. Lalibertés trip coincides with the 25th anniversary of Canada’s presence in space. On Oct. 5, 1984, Marc Garneau, now a Liberal MP, blasted off on the Space Shuttle Challenger from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and became the first Canadian in space.

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Cirque founder arrives at space station

October 7, 2009

cirque1He wore an ear-to-ear grin and his signature clown nose. Guy Laliberté, Canada’s first space tourist, greeted Earth from his orbital outpost early this morning after successfully arriving at the International Space Station. Looking chipper as he floated alongside the station’s astronauts, Mr. Laliberté waved and chatted with his wife and children in a press conference with Russian Mission Control outside Moscow. His Russian spacecraft successfully docked at his home-away-from-home after a two-day trip from Earth. Asked by ground control how he was feeling, Mr. Laliberté responded: “Pretty good, actually.” He joked that he was happy to be there but wouldn’t be staying for months. Mr. Laliberté, a Quebec-born billionaire and self-described first clown in space, docked smoothly at the station, 350 kilometres above Earth. The hatches later opened and he boarded, smiling broadly, with his Russian and American crewmates.

The voyage marks the fulfilment of a personal dream for Mr. Laliberté, a onetime stilt walker who went on to found one of the most successful entertainment enterprises on Earth, the Cirque du Soleil. Mr. Laliberté, who spent five months in training before powering off on the Russian spacecraft with his two co-travellers, will be at the space station for 10 days. He’s using the sojourn to promote his clean-water foundation and orchestrate a live show back on Earth next week. Billed as the “first social and artistic mission to be carried out from space,” the show will be presented in 14 cities around the world and feature notable earthlings such as U2, Peter Gabriel and former U.S. vice-president Al Gore.

Mr. Laliberté isn’t the only Canadian aloft these days. When he enters the space station he will join astronaut Robert Thirsk, who is on his 129th day of a six-month mission at the space station. Mr. Thirsk is conducting experiments as part of Canada’s first long-duration space mission. Not everyone is enamoured with Mr. Laliberté’s trip. Prof. Yves Gingras, who holds the Canada Research Chair in the history and sociology of science, says Mr. Laliberté’s mission underscores the “scientific uselessness” of the space station. The costly outpost has limited room, and the billionaire is taking up a spot that could have been filled by a scientist, he said. “I have nothing against Mr. Laliberté. He can do what he wants with his millions,” said Prof. Gingras, who teaches at the University of Quebec in Montreal. “But we didn’t build the space station so we could say, ‘Great! Let’s send a billionaire up there!’ By taking him there, it just confirms what many critics are saying: That there is no science taking place there. This further undermines its scientific credibility.” But experts say Mr. Laliberté is merely following in the footsteps of other space-bound entrepreneurs – he is the world’s seventh paying space sightseer – in putting his fortune into fulfilling his personal ambitions.

His ticket to ride aboard Russia’s Soyuz rocket cost $35 million. Unlike his space-tourist predecessors, however, he is not a “geek,” said Keith Cowing, editor at NASA Watch web site. “He’s the first person whose sole claim to being there is that he’s a performance artist,” Mr. Cowing said. “He was amazingly successful at it, and that’s what gave him the resources to get there.” Though deep pockets are a prerequisite, it also requires determination and rigorous training, he added. “It’s not like he decided to go on a cruise. You’ve got to have this tenacity to go.” Accompanying Mr. Laliberté for his two-day trip to the space station were astronauts Maxim Surayev of Russia and Jeffrey Williams from the United States. Mr. Lalibertés trip coincides with the 25th anniversary of Canada’s presence in space. On Oct. 5, 1984, Marc Garneau, now a Liberal MP, blasted off on the Space Shuttle Challenger from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and became the first Canadian in space.

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