Deal kings and the producers

A look at the finance and manufacturing sectors

The rich 100: 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001

Intro | Earth movers & deal makers | Lords of land & drug czars | The informers & high flyers | The foodies & shop men | Deal kings & the producers | “My favourite thing”

Deal kings
They are shrewd financiers who have managed to keep the money rolling in ? and they wield considerable power in Canadian business and politics

Paul Martin's ascension to the highest political position in the land must be icing on the cake for 76-year-old Paul Desmarais Sr., the billionaire chairman of Montreal-based Power Corp., Canada's largest financial conglomerate that isn't a bank. Desmarais, who helped give Martin his start in business, is arguably the most well-connected businessman in Canada. In 2003, his personal wealth increased by $130 million to $2.59 billion. In February, Desmarais's Power Financial Corp., holding company for the insurance industry heavyweight Great-West Lifeco, acquired Canada Life Financial in a $7.3-billion deal. Then, in June, Desmarais collected the Woodrow Wilson Prize for corporate citizenship at a gala hosted by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. In September, to celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary and his wife Jacqueline's 75th birthday, Desmarais held a party at his family's Sagard estate near La Malbaie, Que., with a 200-person guest list that included Jean Chrétien and former U.S. president George Bush.

Power Corp. has also been kind to financier Robert Gratton, the CEO of Power Financial, on the list for the first time, with a net worth of $320 million.

Among the financiers appearing on this year's Rich 100, Michael Lee-Chin is the only one with his name plastered on the hoarding that surrounds the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. Earlier this year, Lee-Chin, manager of Canada's largest privately held mutual fund company, Burlington, Ont.-based AIC Ltd., dug into his $1.6 billion worth of holdings to generously donate $30 million to the Renaissance ROM campaign; in response, the museum's crystal addition, currently under construction, will be named after Lee-Chin.

While Lee-Chin basks in the brilliance of crystal, Hal Jackman, No. 47 on the list, with personal wealth of $665 million, has stepped out of the limelight. The outspoken businessman and one-time lieutenant-governor of Ontario resigned as chairman and president of Toronto-based financial services company E-L Financial Corp. in March, turning both positions over to his son Duncan. He also retired as chancellor of the University of Toronto in June, a position he had held for six years.

And finally, Stephen Jarislowsky is at the top of his game. The money manager from Montreal threw his support behind the proposed merger of B.C. forestry giants Canfor and Slocan Forest Products, a deal that would leave Jarislowsky's funds owning 8% of the combined entity, the world's second-largest lumber producer. And, as co-founder of the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance, Jarislowsky has had a field day speaking out against Conrad Black in the wake of the Hollinger CEO's recent fall from grace. That's despite being a one-time friend and former business partner of Black. Which just goes to show that when it comes to corporate governance issues, the rich can be on two sides of a great divide. By Laura Bogomolny

The producers
Compared with others on the Rich 100, manufacturers might seem poor cousins. But while their products differ, they still make lots of the same thing: money

When it comes to making big money, Canadian manufacturers can't hold a candle to Ken Thomson, the Richie Rich of the Great White North, who has managed to sock away an estimated personal fortune of more than $21 billion by skillfully keeping up with changing times in the global communications industry. Indeed, the 11 factory folks lucky enough to make the Rich 100 this year, on the other hand, have a combined worth of just $6.98 billion.

Nevertheless, Canadian manufacturers can stake a fair claim on being able to generate news headlines. The sector crown, of course, goes to Montreal's Bombardier family (ranked 16th overall), whose fortune grew nearly 3% to just over $1.7 billion ? despite a rough ride for the family business this year. In August, Bombardier's chief executive, Paul Tellier, sold the company's legendary Ski-Doo division for $1.2 billion to a group of investors led by Boston-based Bain Capital. The deal, however, included a face-saving 35% stake for the Bombardier family, which also still controls the larger transportation business through controversial voting shares.

Low-profile office-furniture maker Saul Feldberg, Canada's second-richest manufacturer with a net worth of $876 million-among his assets is a controlling stake in Toronto-based Teknion-had a slow publicity year. But Toronto plastics magnate Vic De Zen certainly fed the media beast by announcing he'll step down as co-CEO of Royal Group Technologies in December, after taking heat over poor performance and corporate governance issues. De Zen, Canada's third-richest maker of goods, saw his nest egg slip almost 11%, to $699 million, but he still controls more than 80% of Royal Group through multiple voting shares.

Magna International chairman and founder Frank Stronach (No. 51 overall and Canada's fourth-wealthiest manufacturer) is famous worldwide for starting Magna in a Toronto garage and building it into one of the most lucrative auto part outfits on the planet. But he's also infamous for his outrageous pay packages, taking home $50 million-plus in 2002, more than the chairmen of Detroit's Big Three automakers combined. He also controls Magna, based in Aurora, Ont., through controversial controlling shares. Not to be outdone, Stronach's daughter, Belinda (who runs Magna's day-to-day affairs as president and CEO, allowing dad more time to play with his other passion: race horses), made headlines this year for attempting to unite the political right and rubbing elbows with Bill Clinton.

Canada's prince of fashion, Peter Nygård, our fifth-richest manufacturer, continues to grow his Nygård Fashions empire, which celebrated its 35th year in business in 2003 and now brings in sales of half a billion dollars. And, through his Emerald Point investment arm, Nygård, who spends much of his time at his opulent 150,000-square foot home in the Bahamas, owns more than one million shares of California-based Tarrant Apparel Group (Nasdaq: TAGS), which operates manufacturing plants in Mexico. Trading at about US$4, Nygård's stake is worth about US$4 million.

The only female news-making Rich 100 manufacturer this year (Belinda isn't officially on it yet) is Toronto steel-industry empress Elizabeth Samuel ($524 million), who gave $5 million to the Royal Ontario Museum to honour the memory of her husband, Ernie Samuel, founder of Sam-Son Farm. So at least one rich goods maker gets positive press. By Thomas Watson