Major E-Commerce Joint Venture Creates B2B Online Procurement Marketplace

Five major Canadian companies including The Bank of Nova Scotia, CIBC, Groupe Desjardins, BCE and BCE Emergis are forming a major e-commerce joint venture to create an online procurement marketplace for business-to-business e-commerce. The new company—called Procuron—will enable purchases of supplies and services ranging from paper clips and PCs to courier services and temporary office workers. The aim of this new initiative is to help the co-venturing companies and businesses across Canada slash purchasing costs.

Spokespersons from Procuron state that the initiative marks a new era in e-procurement, providing Canadian businesses with a national B2B exchange to buy business products and services including office equipment and supplies, furniture, computer hardware and accessories, travel and courier services. In the first year, Bell Canada, CIBC, Scotiabank and Caisses Desjardins anticipate total combined spending of approximately $1 billion through Procuron, which will have its own sales force. BCE Emergis will provide, manage and operate the technology infrastructure. As part of the transaction, BCE Emergis will issue performance-based warrants to the other shareholders of Procuron, subject to regulatory approval.

The value of North American business-to-business online transactions is expected to grow from its current level of US$422 billion to US$2.9 trillion by 2004. In Canada, the electronic B2B market will generate an estimated $218 billion in transactions.

The lawyers involved in this transaction are: Sharon Pel, Wendy Gross and Blair Keefe (all of Torys) for the Bank of Nova Scotia; Anita Mackey, in-house counsel with the Bank of Nova Scotia; for CIBC: Jackie Moss, Danielle Sung, Robert Richardson, all in-house with CIBC; for BCE: Richard Mannion, Odin Larocque, both in-house with BCE; for Groupe Desjardins: Marc Beauchemin and Jacques Lemieux, both of Desjardins Ducharme Stein Monast; for Procuron: Richard Corley, Mark Connelly, Duncan Card and Rob Percival, all of Davies, Ward & Beck LLP.