Gerry Schwartz to step down as CEO at Onex, Bobby Le Blanc named next CEO

TORONTO — Gerry Schwartz, founder of Toronto-based private equity firm Onex Corp., will step down from his role as CEO of the company after nearly 40 years.

The billionaire, who turns 81 this month, will remain chairman of Onex. Veteran Onex executive Bobby Le Blanc will take over the top job.

“As we look to the future, I am delighted to announce our proposal to appoint Bobby Le Blanc as chief executive officer following our next annual meeting of shareholders," Schwartz said in a news release Friday.

"Bobby has shown exemplary leadership over his 23 years with Onex and is ideally suited to guide Onex into its next phase of growth while providing for a smooth transition for the organization."

Schwartz, who was born in Winnipeg, established Onex in 1984. Before that, he was the co-founder and president of CanWest Capital.

Onex Corp. now has approximately $47 billion worth of assets under capital. Throughout its history, Onex has also owned a diverse portfolio of operating companies spanning a wide range of industry sectors.

These companies include Purolator, Cineplex, ImPark and WestJet. (Onex acquired WestJet in 2019 for $5 billion).

On its website, Onex says Schwartz has been actively involved with all of the company's major acquisitions and growth strategies.

"Gerry’s principles of value creation and entrepreneurial management suffuse all of Onex’ activities," the company says.

"The climate of incisive analysis, healthy debate and collegial interaction that has been created at Onex and with our partners is a direct reflection of Gerry’s personal style."

Schwartz is married to Heather Reisman, founder and executive chair of Indigo Books and Music.

Reisman was also CEO of Indigo until September, when she announced she was handing the reins to Peter Ruis while staying "deeply involved" in the business as executive chair.

Friday's succession plans came as Onex, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, reported a loss of US$180 million or US$2.12 per diluted share for the quarter ended Sept. 30.

The loss compared with a profit of US$602 million or US$6.76 per diluted share in the same quarter last year.

Onex has US$47.2 billion in assets under management, including US$7.6 billion of its own investing capital.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 11, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX:ONEX)

The Canadian Press