Richest people in Canada 2014 – Canadian Business – Your Source For Business News,
Richest people in Canada 2014
CB s annual ranking of our wealthiest
Nov 26, 2013 CB Staff
For Roy Thomson, it all started with a $500 investment in a northern Ontario radio station during the Great Depression. For Fred DeGasperis, it was a truck he purchased with his brother to do construction jobs around Toronto in the 1950s. For Terry Matthews, it was an ill-fated plan to build hotel fire alarms. The creation myth for each member of the Rich 100 usually begins in the same humble, unassuming manner and ends with the same result: wealth, and a lot of it. And because these people have been at it for decades, they keep getting fabulously, obscenely, gloriously richer.
Collectively, the individuals on the Rich 100 are worth $230 billion, more than the total gross domestic product of many countries in the world, including New Zealand, Ireland and Portugal. And this year has been one of their best ever. Their combined net worth surged by more than 15%, the biggest increase since 2000. The reward for the wealthy is partly a result of a worldwide market rally—the S P 500 Index rose more than 16%, while the Nasdaq increased 17%. The S P/TSX composite, which is more heavily skewed toward commodities, is up just over 6%. While the actual economies of Canada and the U.S. aren’t faring particularly well, so long as the U.S. Federal Reserve maintains its stimulus program, stock markets will tick higher.
They may not always look like titans of industry (Onex CEO Gerry Schwartz and Indigo CEO Heather Reisman were spotted at one of her stores one recent weekend in decidedly non-business attire—he wore track pants, her hair was pulled back with a red scrunchie), but the individuals on this list are particularly good at ensuring they come out on top.
The retail and grocery sectors in Canada have been under siege from Target and Walmart, and yet retailers and grocers typically enjoyed double-digit increases in their fortunes. The Westons and the Sobeys, for example, took aggressive defensive measures to stay competitive. Loblaw snagged Shoppers Drug Mart, and Sobeys bought Safeway Canada. Investors are loving the strategy and sent shares in both companies soaring higher.
As for the Westons and the Sobeys themselves, their net worths shot up by $2.1 billion and $598 million, respectively—gains of roughly 25%. Dollarama founder Larry Rossy has found himself growing richer ever since the recession, when cashstrapped Canadians flocked to his stores in search of cheap goods. Rossy’s net worth bumped up $143 million—an 11% surge. Convenience-store magnate Alain Bouchard, meanwhile, looked beyond Canada and scooped up a European chain last year, combining it with his company, Alimentation Couche-Tard. Investors rewarded the stock. As a major shareholder, Bouchard’s net worth skyrocketed by 48%—almost $500 million.
Few members actually decreased in net worth. Anyone tied to mining, which is undergoing a global rout, suffered badly, however. Gold bug Eric Sprott was dealt a huge blow, falling 17% (more than $200 million). Silver-tongued mining promoter Robert Friedland dropped 14% ($42 million). Rob McEwen’s mining company is struggling so badly he tumbled off the Rich List entirely.
But overall, it’s been a banner year for the super rich. The cutoff for making the list in 2013 was $728 million, compared to $309.6 million in 1999. In a few years the Rich List will likely consist entirely of billionaires. Increasingly the Rich 100 is becoming a class of its own—sailing farther away not only from most of us, but from most multimillionaires, too. Newcomers don’t appear very often, and when they do, it’s often simply because they have managed to dodge the spotlight until now. That’s the case with this year’s new addition, Vancouver’s Aquilini family, which had consistently flown under the radar until an acrimonious divorce proceeding revealed massive wealth and diverse holdings, spanning real estate and agriculture.
More than a quarter of the list is made up of families like the Aquilinis, and while it may be hard to feel sympathy for the pecadilloes of the rich, it’s worth pointing out that being a member of a dynasty comes with its own set of burdens. Roy Thomson, who built a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate, noted in his autobiography that his son, Ken, and his grandsons would have no choice but to manage the family business. “These Thomson boys are not going to be able to, even if they want to, shrug off these responsibilities,” he wrote. Grandson David, a chairman of the family holding company today, felt the full weight of the Thomson name growing up. “I learned at a very early age that people did not give a shit about me, and when they did, they wanted something,” he said in a 1993 oral history of the private school he attended in Toronto. “Now I am extremely self-sufficient and rather overly aggressive, I suppose.”
Such an insightful comment by David Thomson, or any of the nation’s ultra rich, is rare. They tend to be private individuals. The topic they’re particularly loath to discuss, as any researcher on this project can tell you, is their net worth. We, on the other hand, just can’t get enough.
Canadian Business magazine’s Rich 100 list is now in its fifteenth year, but those on our roster have been getting wealthy for much longer.
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Stefan Nafziger seemed oddly downbeat for a guy watching a dozen or so hungry people line up to buy his falafels. Three years ago, when it seemed as if food trucks might take over Manhattan , he planned to have a fleet of his Taim trucks dispensing Middle Eastern fare throughout the city. He even got a Wall Street investor. Now, he says, his one truck barely justifies the cost.
I was originally hoping that Nafziger would help me figure out a decidedly New York puzzle. As I was walking through Prospect Park recently, I wanted to find a healthful snack for my son and something for me. The only options, though, were the same sort of carts that my dad took me to in the ’70s: Good Humor ice cream, overpriced cans of soda and overboiled hot dogs sitting in cloudy water. This seemed ridiculous. In the past few decades, food in New York City has gone through a complete transformation, but the street-vendor market, which should be more nimble, barely budges. Shouldn’t there be four Wafels Dinges trucks for every hot-dog cart?
David Weber, president of the New York City Food Truck Association, explained that the ratio is more like 25 to 1 the other way. That’s because despite the inherent attractiveness of cute trucks and clever food options, the business stinks. There are numerous (and sometimes conflicting) regulations required by the departments of Health, Sanitation, Transportation and Consumer Affairs. These rules are enforced, with varying consistency, by the New York Police Department . As a result, according to City Councilman Dan Garodnick, it’s nearly impossible (even if you fill out the right paperwork) to operate a truck without breaking some law. Trucks can’t sell food if they’re parked in a metered space . . . or if they’re within 200 feet of a school . . . or within 500 feet of a public market . . . and so on.
Enforcement is erratic. Trucks in Chelsea are rarely bothered, Nafziger said. In Midtown South, where I work and can attest to the desperate need for more lunch options, the N.Y.P.D. has a dedicated team of vendor-busting cops. “One month, we get no tickets,” Thomas DeGeest, the founder of Wafels Dinges, a popular mobile-food businesses that sells waffles and things, told me. “The next month, we get tickets every day.” DeGeest had two trucks and five carts when he decided he couldn’t keep investing in a business that was so vulnerable to overzealous cops or city bureaucracy. Instead, DeGeest reluctantly decided to open a regular old stationary restaurant.
Nafziger also knows well the regulatory hassles of the business. After one of his employees spent eight hours in jail for selling falafel without a license, he strictly follows the rule insisting that every mobile-food employee has Health Department certification. The trouble is that he needs to employ four people, each with his own license; if one quits, it can take two months for a new worker to get the proper paperwork. Nafziger said he holds on to his truck only because it’s basically a moving billboard for his two, more successful brick-and-mortar restaurants, in Greenwich Village and NoLIta. And stationary restaurants, by the way, require that only a single employee on duty have a Health Department certification.
Nafziger and DeGeest may have become experts in the rules and regulations, but many of the city’s vendors are constantly flummoxed. I spent one recent morning in the offices of the Street Vendor Project, a worker-advocacy group. As I sat with Sean Basinski, the group’s founder, a stream of vendors came in with pink tickets in their hands. One woman, an Ecuadorean immigrant who sells kebabs in Bushwick, Brooklyn , handed Basinski the six tickets that she and her husband received on a single afternoon. The total came to $2,850, which, she said, was much more than what she makes in a good week. She had a street-vendor’s license, she said, but didn’t understand that she also needed a separate permit for her cart.
The food-truck business, I realized, is a classic case of bureaucratic inertia. The city has a right to weigh the interests of food-market owners (who don’t want food trucks blocking their windows) and diners (who deserve to know that their street meat is edible, and harmless). But many of the rules governing location were written decades ago. In the ’80s, the city capped the number of carts and trucks at 3,000 (plus 1,000 more from April to October). Technically, a permit for a food cart or truck is not transferable, but Andrew Rigie, executive director of the N.Y.C. Hospitality Alliance, said that vendors regularly pay permit holders something like $15,000 to $20,000 to lease their certificates for two years. Legally, the permit holder becomes a junior partner in the new business.
As Rigie spoke, I was reminded of corrupt countries that I’ve visited, like Iraq and Haiti , where illogical and arbitrarily enforced rules create the wrong set of incentives. Perhaps the biggest winner in our current system is an obscure type of business known as an authorized commissary. By city law, every food cart and truck must visit a licensed commissary each day, where a set of mandated cleaning services can be performed. These commissaries also sell and rent carts and sell vendors food, soda, ice cream and propane . Rigie told me that many commissary owners make a bit extra by acting as informal brokers, facilitating the not-quite-legal trade of permits, which, by some estimates, is a $15 million-a-year business. Given their city-mandated stream of business, these commissaries have essentially formed an oligopoly. As a result, they have little incentive to compete aggressively by offering different kinds of food. No wonder we have an oversupply of hot dogs and knishes and nowhere near enough waffles and falafels.
Economically speaking, the problem is a standard one, known as the J-curve, which represents a downslope on a graph followed by a steep rise. Some sensible changes to the current food-vendor system may have long-term benefits for everyone, but the immediate impact could spell short-term losses for those who now profit from the system. A small group of New Yorkers — particularly owners of commissaries and physical restaurants — are highly motivated to lobby politicians not to change things. And most of the potential beneficiaries don’t realize they’re missing out. Many of the rest of us would love to have more varied food trucks, but we don’t care enough to pressure the City Council.
The one group that clearly suffers from the current system — the ticketed vendors — are often poorly paid immigrants without legal status and virtually no power. This sort of dynamic more or less sums up the economies of the third world. Economists generally agree that one of the distinguishing factors between rich countries and poor ones is that it is much easier to start businesses in rich countries. In Ecuador , for example, it takes about 56 days and 13 separate procedures to get all the legal paperwork done to start a new business. In the United States, it’s an average of six days and six procedures. But if you want to open a mobile-food business in New York, it’s essentially like starting a business in Ecuador — and that’s if you can somehow arrange a permit.
Adam Davidson is co-founder of NPR’s “Planet Money,” a podcast and blog.
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#investor business daily
Investor s Business Daily Founder Invests in SMU
California-based William J. O’Neil, who started the Investor’s Business Daily newspaper, funded a chair in business journalism at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts in 2007 and, a year later, established the William J. O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom at SMU’s Cox School of Business. O’Neil lived in Dallas growing up and graduated from SMU in 1955.
1. Why have you endowed these programs at SMU?
Because we’ve had Investor’s Business Daily for 27 years. We have an enormous database, and we’ve learned a lot about the economy. There’s constant change—newcomers coming in with something new, cheaper, faster, displacing older-line companies—and that’s the heart of what the country’s all about. There’s freedom and opportunity to do whatever you want here; it’s up to you. But not everyone understands that.
2. Why have you focused at least partly on business journalism?
My feeling about the journalist field is that journalism students don’t really know much about business. So I think every journalism [student] should have a couple of years of economics background. They need to be able to judge and evaluate: Is this thing we’re hearing about sound, or not?
3. It has been reported that you bought a building in Plano. What will you do with it?
The building is in escrow, and we should have possession by December or January. I think it’s on 11.5 acres. We’re going to move some people here. We have two different operations: O’Neil Data Systems [an automated printing business], which has a lot of big contracts with HMOs to provide all their data. And then we’ll have some of the newspaper people, though we’ll still maintain similar operations in Los Angeles. We’re still analyzing what functions we’ll want to have here, and we’ll hire some people here. In the long run, the paper may have its headquarters here. It just depends.
4. Depends on what?
Well, on how things go. We think being in the central part of the country—in a dynamic area that’s growing and that’s more willing to be pro-business—would preserve the future of the paper.
5. There seems to be a lot of talk these days about American decline. Do you agree with the naysayers, or are you optimistic about the future?
Back in the 1970s, everybody was saying that we had seen our best growth. But the American system is such that anybody can come here and do anything they want to do. So the ‘brain drain’ is moving toward us all the time. Our system adjusts and corrects the problems. So I think the long-term future is very positive.