The Desmarais inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame

(Toronto) Nearly nine years after the death of patriarch, Paul Desmarais, and 26 years after his two sons, André and Paul Jr., took over the reins of Power Corporation, the three men were inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame on Thursday night during a ceremony in Toronto.

Posted at 7:00 am

Karim Benessaieh

Karim Benessaieh
The press

Founded in 1979 by the Canadian organization Junior Achievement, this pantheon honored some 200 business personalities considered to be sources of inspiration for young people. In addition to the three members of the Desmarais family, two other personalities were inaugurated this year, Maureen Kempston Darkes, vice president of the General Motors group, and Hassan Khosrowshahi, founder of Future Shop.

brothers in arms

At a ceremony held exclusively in English, Paul Desmarais Jr. and André Desmarais began their comments with thanks in French. They first wanted to pay a lively tribute to their father, who took over the family bus company in 1951 before taking control of Power Corporation in 1968, making it one of Canada’s largest conglomerates, which, among other things, owned The press until 2018. The first of the two brothers to take the stage, Paul jr, believes that “his real passion, I think, was his family after all”. “He always allowed me to do what I loved to do, and I couldn’t have done it without him,” he continued. At the same time, he greeted his mother, Jacqueline, “always lovingly and a permanent Eveready pile”. “I couldn’t have wished for better parents. †

He recalled that in 1996, in an unusual gesture, his father gave the title of co-chief executive to his sons.

“My father was brilliant enough to give us each our zones and our territories,” said the man who founded Power Corporation as a financial services conglomerate in 1986. “It’s great because it gave us oxygen, the opportunity to develop our own world, our own leadership with our own team. †

He made it a point to thank first-rate employees such as Robert Gratton, “the phenomenon of his generation”, and Michel Plessis-Bélair, who helped build the company. “Without these people, I wouldn’t be blessed with a career that I’ve enjoyed so much. †

“This honor is not just for the Desmarais, but for the people who have worked with us over the decades,” added André Desmarais. He confessed that he feared that after he appointed the brothers’ co-chiefs, his father would continue to run the company. A few important acquisitions later, he was reassured and wanted to thank his brother. “He was a great partner. And yet our opinions differed on just about everything…”

China and financial services

Paul Jr. barely held back his tears as he returned the compliment to his brother. “Together we made the decision to flip the business and go deep into financial services. Through all the transactions we have strengthened each other’s courage and, by God, we needed it. It felt good to have someone close to you with unconditional support. And he was my brother. †

Previously in an interview with The pressAndré Desmarais acknowledged that tributes like the one on Thursday evening, “these are always things that bother us, but this time we decided to do it, because they decided to honor my father at the same time. It is quite special to honor my father, brother and me at the same time. It’s wonderful.”

While Power Corporation has long been a highly diversified conglomerate, he believes this introduction will reward success as a financial services company. “When we sold Consolidated Bathurst and Montreal Trust [en 1989], it made us a lot of money. It allowed us to make an offer for London Life and then we made offers for other companies. †

Investments in China, in which Power Corporation was an early Canadian player, and in Europe were “probably” eligible for this introduction.

“I’d say it’s a little bit of everything, eventually…”

The Desmarais in a nutshell


PHOTOGRAPH PATRICK SANFAÇON, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Paul Desmarais, in 2007

Paul Desmarais

Born January 4, 1927 in Sudbury, Ontario

In 1951 the family business took over bus transport

Married in 1953 to Jacqueline Maranger, with whom he had four children, Paul, André, Louise and Sophie

In 1963 it acquired Imperial Life insurance company and then in 1965 the TransCanada Corporation Fund; he then becomes the owner of The press

Purchased in 1968, through a stock exchange, Power Corporation, a public utility company founded in Montreal in 1925; he became Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer in 1970

Passed the reins of Power Corporation to his sons Paul and André in 1996

Died October 8, 2013


PHOTOGRAPH ANDRÉ PICHETTE, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

André Desmarais, in 2018

André Desmarais

Born October 26, 1956 in Ottawa, Ontario

Started his career in 1979 at Campeau Corporation, a real estate company founded by Robert Campeau

Married in 1981 to France Chrétien, daughter of the then Minister of Justice, Jean Chrétien

Became Vice President at Power Corporation in 1983

Appointed president and chief operating officer of media subsidiary Gescaltée . in 1984

In 1996, he became President and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Power Corporation

Announcing his retirement as co-CEO in 2020

Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Power Corporation


PHOTOGRAPH ANDRÉ PICHETTE, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Paul Desmarais Jr.

Paul Desmarais Jr.

Born July 3, 1954 in Sudbury, Ontario

Obtained a Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University and a Master of Administration from the European Institute of Business Administration in Fontainebleau, France

Worked in the 1970s at SG Warburg, in London, and at Standard Brands, in New York

Worked at Power Corporation in 1981

Founded Power Financial and became President and Chief Operating Officer in 1986

Became Chairman of the Board and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Power Corporation in 1996

Announces his retirement as Co-Chief Executive Officer in February 2020

Chairman of the Board of Directors of Power Corporation

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