For decades, Jarislowsky has been Canada’s best-known advocate for shareholder rights and has fought to keep some major companies in Canadian hands. Here are some highlights of a long career as an activist.
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Mr. Jarislowsky opposed a 1986 deal that would have seen the Billes family sell its controlling voting shares without requiring a similar buy-out for non-voting shareholders, who owned 90 per cent of the equity. He called the offer 'unethical.'
Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press
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In 2002, Mr. Jarislowsky led a public campaign against excessive break fees in takeover bids after protesting a deal to pay Sun Life Financial Services of Canada Inc. as much as $310-million in fees if its offer to acquire Clarica Life Insurance Co. was trumped by another bidder.
Michelle Siu/The Globe and Mail
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Fought the proposed purchase of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan in 2010 by BHP Billiton. He argued 'there isn't a country in the world' that would let a company of similar strategic importance be taken over by foreign owners.
Liam Richards/The Globe and Mail
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Mr. Jarislowsky helped lead opposition to a 1985 deal by Torstar Corp. and Southam Inc. to swap shares and take an ownership interest in each others’ companies to help stave off a possible future takeover bid for Southam. Mr. Jarislowsky complained to the Ontario Securities Commission that the deal locked control of the company in Southam family hands and was unfair to minority shareholders.
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Mr. Jarislowsky revealed in 2004 he had approached the Ontario Securities Commission three years earlier to investigate concerns about how Conrad Black was running Hollinger Inc. An opponent of side deals with insiders at Hollinger, he protested the payment of non-competition fees to Lord Black and other Hollinger insiders.
Jerry Lai/The Canadian Press
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Mr. Jarislowsky teamed with Claude Lamoureux, who was then CEO of the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, to form the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance in 2002. The CCGG has grown into Canada’s most powerful voice for institutional shareholders, pushing major companies behind the scenes to improve their boardroom practices and reform their shareholder voting practices.
Louie Palu/The Globe and Mail
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One of the CCGG’s behind-the-scenes campaigns encouraged by Mr. Jarislowsky in 2005 saw battered Nortel Networks Corp. replace five long-serving members on its board. Mr. Jarislowsky was critical of the board for the compensation plan it introduced in 2002, and the CCGG proposed names to Nortel in an effort to get the board to consider new director nominees. (Pictured: Nortel’s research and development headquarters, which was sold to the federal government.)
DAVE CHAN/The Globe and Mail
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Mr. Jarislowky was a long-time opponent of what he called excessive compensation paid to Magna founder Frank Stronach. In 2010, he urged shareholders to vote against Magna’s proposal to pay Mr. Stronach $860-million (U.S.) to buy out his dual-class shares in the company.
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Mr. Jarislowsky publicly backed a bid by Canadian-based Maple Group for TMX Group Ltd. in 2011 rather than see the parent of the Toronto Stock Exchange merge with the London Stock Exchange and lose its Canadian ownership. He argued the TSX didn’t need to partner with the LSE to build a global stock trading business.
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Mr. Jarislowsky has been a consistent opponent of excessive compensation for top executives, and has often complained about the widespread use of stock options. He advocates banning their use, arguing options lead to short-term thinking and risk-taking because they reward executives who take temporary steps to push up the share price so they can exercise their options.
John Morstad/The Globe and Mail