Canadiens president to lead PE firm Claridge
MONTREAL-Twice in the past decade, Stephen Bronfman looked at buying the Montreal Canadiens.

For Bronfman, part of the attraction was the strength of the franchise's front office, led by president Pierre Boivin, who he already knew from their involvement in a variety of charities and philanthropic causes.

Bronfman never got his team, but he did get his man. On Friday, Boivin was confirmed as the new president of Claridge Inc., the family private-equity business founded in 1987 by Stephen's father Charles.

Claridge has interests in a number of businesses in the food, entertainment and real-estate sectors.

And it'll be a much larger player in the next decade as it steps up activities, said Bronfman, who's been president for four years and will become chairman of the board upon Boivin's arrival in September.

Boivin, 57, is exiting the Canadiens after 12 years as president. He'd served notice last year that he'd be leaving at the end of June. Team owner Geoff Molson last month announced a key new hire for the front office, chief operating officer Kevin Gilmore.

"It was a privilege to have been able to lead that institution," Boivin said. "It's been a great ride. But after 12 years, it's time to move on. The management team there will do a great job."

Boivin said his interest in private equity is what drew him to Claridge.

"I have always been interested and involved in the private-equity sector. I've been on the boards of several companies. I've made investments of my own. After meeting with Stephen, I could see a good fit with the vision and plans Stephen has for Claridge," he said.

Bronfman said it was "important for myself and the team to have someone with Pierre's background and experience come join us. It makes us stronger. We're excited to have him. When the two of us come knocking on doors, I think people will want to do business with us."

With so many family businesses likely to come on the market in the next decade because of the aging population and lack of entrepreneurial succession, there'll be no shortage of interesting opportunities, Boivin said.

"In this business, the most important aspect of being successful is working with management to create value, creating comfortable and accountable relationships to take the company to the next level."

By Paul Delean
Financial Post