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Corporate Catalyst. A Chronicle of the (Mis)Management of Canadian Business from a Veteran Insider

  • ID: 2218410
  • Book
  • May 2012
  • Region: Canada
  • 320 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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From the author's "Note to the Reader":

I wanted to put on the record my own account of events that I experienced throughout my business career. As time has marched onward, books have naturally appeared written by journalists and business people giving their views of the history of which I was a part. In some cases, biographers and autobiographers have taken considerable licence with the facts. Some of this is inadvertent or innocent since, in many instances, the writer would not necessarily be aware of the other side of the issues. In other cases, there have been clear distortions and reinvention of the facts to suit the writer's story. ... [F]or my story to have substance and meaning, I have to provide the full account. ...

[M]y experiences have been situational, where I am cast into problems created by others and must evolve a corrective plan and set the tone for the future. These episodes introduced a variety of personalities and forces—some friendly and co–operative, some difficult and complicated, and others, regrettably, that did not respect the trust of a handshake.

"In Corporate Catalyst, Tony Griffiths, consummate deal–maker and corporate fixer, shares the secrets of his astonishingly varied experience in Canadian business with wit and wisdom. It should be required reading for aspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders."
—Peter Stormonth Darling, former Chairman of Mercury Asset Management and former Vice Chair of S.G.Warburg, London, U.K.

"This is a wonderful tale about business in Canada over the past forty years as told by the man with the most varied career that I have ever encountered, written in the same straightforward manner that defines his character."
—Robin Korthals, Corporate Director, and former TD Bank President

"A riveting read. The book is charming in its candour, insight and humour. A great insight into Canadian business personalities."
—Michael MacMillan, former Chair and CEO of Alliance Atlantis Communications

"If you want to know what goes on in a boardroom and why it is difficult for one director to change the course of a corporation, read this book. The majority may not always be right, but it is hard for one person to convince the majority. This is an inside story told by an insider."
—Claude Lamoureux, Co–founder of Canadian Coalition for Good Governance, former CEO of Ontario Teachers Pension
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Acknowledgements IX

Note to the Reader XI

1 From an Old World to a New: 1896–1956 1

2 My Next Education, 1956–1960 15

3 I Cut My Teeth on Glass, 1960–1968 23

4 Looking Past Glass, 1969–1971 35

5 From Candy Mergers to Cable Mergers, 1971–1974 49

6 Cable Wars Go Public, 1973–1977 67

7 Oral Assurances, 1977–1979 89

8 Trolling for Takeovers, 1975–1978 109

9 Weaving a Recovery, 1979–1982 121

10 From Supergun to Handgun, or Down and Out in L. A., 1979–1984 137

11 Crisis at Mitel and then British Telecom Calls, 1984–1987 153

12 From Provincial Bailout to Financial Collection, 1987 183

13 Extraordinary Financial Escapades, 1987–1990 195

14 Mitel: Second Time Around, 1987–1991 215

15 British Imperialism Enters the Boardroom, 1992–1993 233

16 A New–World Colonial: The Ondaatje Corporation, 1992–1995 257

17 Catalyst for Change: The Saga of Confederation Life, 1989–1994 281

18 In Closing: What To Do When Faced with a Company in Trouble 305

Appendix: Board Membership 315

Endnotes 319

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Anthony "Tony" Griffiths was born in Rangoon, Burma, and educated in the U.S. and Canada. He holds an MBA from Harvard. He is the chairman of Russel Metals, Inc. and Novadaq Technologies Inc., a director of Vitran Corp., Fairfax Financial, Gedex Inc., Jaguar Mining Inc., and The Brick Group. Previous directorships include Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc., Canadian Cablesystems, Canadian Tire, Consumers Packaging, Harding Carpets, Hub International Ltd., Leitch Technology Corp., Shaw Communications, and Slater Steel—and, once upon a time, even the Edmonton Oilers. Tony and his wife Penny reside in Toronto.
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