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Torstar CEO announcement is near, and a new contender emerges

Current Torstar CEO David Holland will retire Friday after more than 30 years.

Mark Blinch/Reuters

The parent company of the Toronto Star has finally chosen its new CEO, with an announcement to come as early as Friday.

Several external candidates made the shortlist for the top job at Torstar Corp. after a protracted search, according to multiple sources familiar with the process. Current Torstar CEO David Holland will retire Friday after more than 30 years with the Toronto-based newspaper and digital media company; Torstar said in a press release earlier this week that it expected to announce a successor "very soon."

One person who has emerged as a contender is John Boynton, an executive at loyalty marketing company Aimia Inc.

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Prior to working at Aimia, Mr. Boynton spent 12 years at Rogers Communications Inc., where he was an executive vice-president and chief marketing officer before his departure in 2014. Former colleagues at Rogers describe Mr. Boynton as driven and data-focused, but also a polarizing figure. Mr. Boynton and Torstar chairman John Honderich could not be reached Thursday for comment.

Other outside contenders for the job, according to sources familiar with a search that is being run by Caldwell Partners, were John Cassaday, former CEO of Corus Entertainment Inc.; Jonathan Goodman, global managing partner at consulting firm Monitor Deloitte; and Wayne Parrish, former chief operating officer at Postmedia Network Inc., the country's largest newspaper chain.

Mr. Cassaday spent 16 years running Corus, a television-focused media company controlled by Calgary's Shaw family, before retiring in 2015. Mr. Parrish spent the early part of his career as a journalist before becoming a print and digital media executive; he left Postmedia two years ago. Mr. Cassaday could not be reached for comment on the Torstar CEO search, and Mr. Parrish declined to comment.

Mr. Goodman is a Harvard Business School graduate who has spent three decades in management consulting, but he has deep connections to Torstar. He worked as a reporter at the flagship Toronto Star prior to doing his MBA and is the son of the late Martin Goodman, a widely respected journalist who became president of the Star before his death in 1981.

However, when contacted by The Globe and Mail earlier this week, he said he is out. "I have had a long personal and professional relationship with Torstar and care deeply about the future of the company and the future of journalism in this country," he said in an e-mail. "That said, I am not currently in the running for the CEO of Torstar."

An internal CEO candidate is Chris Goodridge, who currently runs Torstar's digital media operations. He is a former lawyer at Blake Cassels and Graydon LLP who joined Torstar in 2004.

Torstar has a unique corporate governance model, as the 125-year-old company is controlled by five founding families and has a mandate to be a progressive social force along with a money-making enterprise.

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That dual mission is seen as an extra challenge for the next CEO, and Torstar, like most traditional newspaper companies, has struggled to replace the print advertising revenue that is rapidly shifting to digital platforms such as Google and Facebook.

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About the Authors
Banking Reporter

James Bradshaw is banking reporter for the Report on Business. He covered media from 2014 to 2016, and higher education from 2010 to 2014. Prior to that, he worked as a cultural reporter for Globe Arts, and has written for both the Toronto section and the editorial page. More

Business Columnist

Andrew Willis is a business columnist for the Report on Business at The Globe and Mail, based in Toronto.He has been in business communications and journalism for three decades. More

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