Sunday, April 5, 2009

Hey Sabia: Two backroom deals don’t make a right.

Sabia holds out olive branch to Quebec in Power Corporation.

Good lord....Power Corporation.....again. Wasn’t this the same tag team on income trusts..... Sabia from BCE acting as foil on behalf of Power Corporation?

Now that he’s met with the Desmarais’, I guess this means the job’s his?

Now, all of a sudden he’s qualified? Huh? To my way of thinking this only makes things worse and highlights that the selection process is NOT beyond reproach.

And just whose money is Sabia going to be (mis)managing at the Caisse anyway.....that of Quebec citizens or that of Quebec Inc.?

Somehow, this sets things straight?

Two backroom deals don’t make a right.

Sabia holds out olive branch to Quebec Inc.

Globe and Mail
April 3, 2009

MONTREAL -- Michael Sabia is reaching out to influential members of Quebec's business community.

Mr. Sabia, whose appointment as chief of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec has stirred controversy in Quebec business and political circles, met yesterday with a select group of deal makers and entrepreneurs.

Accompanied by Caisse chairman Robert Tessier, the meeting took place at Power Corp. of Canada headquarters, just up the street from the Caisse's lavish offices in Old Montreal.

As he walked with Mr. Tessier to the meeting, Mr. Sabia was asked by a reporter from the all-news channel LCN-Argent why he gave up his bonus, pension and other perks at the Caisse.

"It's an enormously important Quebec institution," he replied. "It's an honour for me to contribute to the growth of the Caisse."

Mr. Sabia met with his predecessor at the Caisse, Henri-Paul Rousseau, who is now a key player in the inner circle of the Desmarais family's holding company.

Among those present were Monique Leroux, the head of Desjardins Group, François Coutu, chief executive officer of drugstore chain Jean Coutu Group (PJC) Inc., and Rémi Marcoux, chairman of printing and media giant Transcontinental Inc.

As he left the meeting, Mr. Marcoux told the reporter: "It was a good meeting. [Mr. Sabia] is an intelligent man. He has a strategy and it's a good one."

Caisse spokesman Maxime Chagnon said Mr. Sabia - the former head of BCE Inc. - will be meeting other executives as part of an effort to "strengthen the links with Quebec business people."

Mr. Sabia's appointment three weeks ago to the Caisse - the powerful, $120-billion pension fund that posted disastrous losses in 2008 - has stirred controversy in Quebec on a number of fronts.

An anglophone from Ontario who has lived and worked in Quebec for more than 15 years, Mr. Sabia has come under fire from nationalists for allegedly not being sufficiently well-versed in the ways of Quebec's business culture.

Other critics said he does not have a strong enough background in finance and investment. The speed with which he got the nod as Caisse head also raised eyebrows, with allegations he short-circuited the selection process as the favoured candidate of Liberal Premier Jean Charest.

Mr. Tessier has said he is satisfied the hiring of Mr. Sabia was handled in a rigorous and correct fashion.

The question of a possible conflict of interest arising from his BCE days has also come up.

Late Thursday, the Caisse issued a terse press release saying Mr. Sabia is giving up his BCE stock options and putting his assets in a blind trust after the matter of the stock options was raised in the National Assembly.

Mr. Sabia, 55, has 913,343 unexercised options as of Dec. 31, 2008, according to BCE's proxy circular.

Parti Québécois finance critic François Legault said keeping the options would have placed Mr. Sabia in a potential conflict of interest, for example, if Montreal cable and telecom firm Vidéotron Ltée were to seek more financing from the Caisse.

BCE is the parent of Bell Canada, Vidéotron's rival, and the Caisse is a major investor in Vidéotron.

Mr. Chagnon said yesterday that the decision to jettison the options, as well as the move to place Mr. Sabia's assets in a blind trust, are part of a continuing process since his arrival at the Caisse and are not being done in reaction to criticism.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Who does Sabia work for? Quebec or the Desmarais’?