Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Maple Leaf shareholder sells stake

West Face Capital Inc., which led a shareholder rebellion in 2010, has sold its 16 million shares in Maple Leaf Foods Inc.

Rather than dismiss chief executive Michael McCain and the entire board of directors, Greg Boland persuaded McCain to transform the company by selling non-core assets and investing in centralizing and modernizing its meat processing business.

McCain, who bought the shares held by Ontario Teachers Pension Plan when it wanted out, owns 33 per cent of the shares.

Since Boland became a director on the board, Maple Leaf has sold it Rothsay Concentrates Rendering, its turkey farms and processing plant at Thamesford, its Canada Bread division to Bimbo Bakery for $1.8 billion and its Oliviera pasta business.

The plan unveiled in 2011 called for an investment of $560 million in a new meat-processing plant at Hamilton. Those costs have since topped $1 billion and the company has lost money in five of its most recent six quarters.

McCain says the company’s costs have been high because it’s opening the new facility while continuing operations in some of the old facilities, chief among them the Schneider Corp. plant in downtown Kitchener which is scheduled to close in December.

West Face is now investing in Globealive Wireless Management Corp. which is trying to buy Wind mobile.