Take Stock – September 4

Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU) says it expects to shed 1,000 workers as a result of last month’s union with Petro-Canada.

Suncor expects to shed 2,000 jobs after merger

Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU) says it expects to shed 1,000 workers as a result of last month’s union with Petro-Canada.

All staff affected by the move are expected to be gone by mid-October through a combination of layoffs, retirements and discontinuation of contract positions.

Most of the layoffs have already taken place, and Suncor says it is committed to letting employees know their status by the middle of this month. The job cuts are part of efforts to cut costs across the company, now Canada’s largest energy name. Suncor says it’s on track to meet its target of saving $300 million in operating expenditures and $1 billion in capital spending.

Suncor has also proposed moving its international and offshore business to Calgary from London.

Trochu farmer may tour Versatile factory

Trochu grain grower Jamie Christie’s intimate knowledge of his Versatile tractor and its daily maintenance needs have won him a trip to the company’s factory in Winnipeg. Christie won first place out of 400 entries in the 2008 Versatile Heavy Metal Tour’s five-minute challenge. Competitors were tested on their knowledge of the tractor’s service points and grease zerks, a type of fitting named for inventor Oscar Zerk. Allowed five minutes, Christie completed the test in two minutes and 28 seconds — with a perfect score.

The tour travelled across the Prairie provinces, offering farmers at its various stops the rare opportunity to test drive a 535-horsepower Versatile HHT Series tractor.

Christie said in a news release that he has been a Versatile owner for years and has always wanted a tour of the Winnipeg plant. Versatile, a division of Buhler Industries, is the only company in Canada that still makes farm tractors. Its Winnipeg facility includes a 700,000-square-foot plant and a 40-acre test site.

Commodity prices demand caution: CWB

EDMONTON — The chief executive of Canadian Western Bank (TSX:CWB) says lower commodity prices have left the bank feeling cautious about its short-term outlook for the economy in Western Canada, even though profits rose nine per cent in the latest quarter.

Larry Pollock, the Edmonton-based bank’s president and CEO, said Thursday that oil and gas industry growth has been stalling, and that has impacted a major part of its business. The bank provides loans to companies looking to start up new energy projects.

“We don’t think anybody is going to go looking for gas where (the price) is today,” he said.

“The strengthening dollar has reduced the profit on oil.”

The reluctance of business investors has left the bank concerned about the short-term direction of the Western Canadian economy. New projects for condominiums have stalled and other business plans have been put on the backburner.

On Thursday, CWB reported that its net income for the May-July quarter rose to $28.7 million, up nine per cent from $26.3 million in the year-earlier period and up nearly 33 per cent from $21.58 million in the February-April quarter.

Revenue for the fiscal third quarter was $83.3 million, up 11 per cent from $74.9 million a year earlier and up 13 per cent from $73.7 million in the second quarter ended April 30.

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