Up to the Minute: Telus buys an AI company

Plus, Aphria enters U.S. market through craft beer and A2C adds to its board.

Telus’ international division acquires Lionbridge AI

Telus International has again added to its technology and scale by acquiring Lionbridge AI. The U.S.-based company specializes in training AI systems and annotating data, one of only two globally scaled platforms in the world offering the service. Lionbridge’s tech annotates data in text, images, videos and audio, helping otherwise unstructured data – a major pain point for data-heavy organizations – become useable for AI systems.

Worth $1.2 billion, the deal is expected to close before the end of the year.

Telus International is a subsidiary of the telco focused on providing customer experience and digital experience services to international clients. It plans to make its IPO in the first quarter of 2021, and build up its scale earlier this year with the acquisition of Berlin-based Competence Call Centres.

Aphria enters U.S. market

In a week when several more states voted to legalize recreational cannabis, Canadian producer Aphria is making its entry south of the border not with flower, but with drinks. It has acquired craft brewer SweetWater Brewing in a USD $300 million deal that is expected to close before the end of the year.

Aphria did not say in its announcement if it would be using SweetWater to partner on the development of cannabis-infused beverages, a common partnership tactic among the company’s competition in Canada. Rather, the company pointed to the alignment with SweetWater’s flagship “420″ line of beers, which are brewed with terpenes and hemp flavors that can emulate the flavors and aromas of popular cannabis strains. Irwin D. Simon, Aphria’s chairman and CEO, said that having a foothold in the U.S. would also give it the infrastructure and platform to more easily build awareness for its Broken Coast, Good Supply, Riff and Solei cannabis brands, and access the U.S. market once federal legalization occurs.

A2C adds to its board

Following its AGM, Quebec’s Association of Creative Communications Agencies has made two additions to its board of directors: Samia Chebeir, president at FCB Montreal, and Alex Lefebvre, director and senior partner at Rethink. Each was elected to a two-year term, and fill spots vacated by outgoing Board members Benoit Cartier and Mylène Savoie.