News East West
TORONTO: Fairfax Financial Holdings, controlled by Toronto-based Indo-Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa, has bought a majority stake in the famous Canadian restaurant chain The Keg.
Fairfax, which has been trying to buy BlackBerry, announced on Monday that it is buying a controlling stake of 51 percent in Keg Restaurants Ltd which has 102 locations across Canada and four American states with annual sales of nearly $500 million.
Though the details of the deal have not been made public, the remaining stake of 49 percent will remain with its longtime director Aisenstat who will run the restaurant chain which has over 9,500 employees.
Keg Royalties Income Fund, which owns Keg trademark and gets royalty on sales from Keg Restaurants Ltd, said in a statement through its chairman Kip Woodward, “Fairfax is a well-known and proven investor in the Canadian market. With the addition of Fairfax to the Keg team, The Keg is well positioned and has a solid foundation for continued growth, which will benefit the Fund and its unit holders.’’
The Keg has been business since 1971, founded by a North Vancouver businessman George Tidball.
By buying a majority stake in The Keg, Prem Watsa’s investment company is diversifying away from its core business of insurance. Before buying this stake, Fairfax offloaded its Prime Restaurants to Cara Operations.
Hyderabad-born Prem Watsa, 63, is by far the richest Indo-Canadian. He came to Canada after completing his degree in chemical engineering from IIT Madras. He is an MBA from the famous Richard Ivy School of Business of the University of Waterloo in Canada.
Called the Warren Buffett of Canada, Watsa took control of Fairfax in the mid-1980s. It has over 8,000 employees worldwide. Fairfax also controls 10 percent of Blackberry shares.