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Barry Sherman’s son tells Apotex CEO to leave

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Two days before the anniversary of Barry Sherman’s murder, Jonathon Sherman told his father’s longtime partner and friend Jack Kay to leave Apotex, the generic drug company the two men built over 35 years.

Kay, the chief executive officer of Apotex, was sitting in his office last Tuesday when Jonathon Sherman walked in and said his services were no longer required, according to a source with knowledge of what happened.

Kay was told to return to Apotex after business hours to collect his belongings.

“It was like a gut punch. Actually, a gut punch is an understatement,” said an Apotex insider with knowledge of what happened on Dec. 11. By Monday of this week, Canada’s small pharmaceutical manufacturing industry was buzzing with the news that Kay was out the door.

At the time of Kay’s dismissal, plans were being made for a company-wide day of mourning later that week. The bodies of Barry Sherman and his wife Honey were found in their Toronto home on Dec. 15, 2017, two days after they are believed to have been strangled there in what police have termed a “targeted” double homicide.

Berman responded with a statement confirming Kay’s departure, but did not answer questions about the manner of his departure or the apparent tensions between Kay and Barry Sherman’s son.

“Upon the successful completion of our transition plan, Jack Kay is no longer with the company,” Berman wrote. “All of us at Apotex wish Jack the best of luck in his future pursuits. Jeff Watson, currently president and COO, is now ready to lead Apotex into the future. Jeff has been with Apotex for 24+ years, working in various capacities including chief commercial officer for North America, and president of global generics. Jeff is well respected within the industry, and we are very proud to have him leading the company.”

Reached by the Star Tuesday, Kay declined to comment.

The Sherman children recently offered a $10-million reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever killed their parents. A tip line set up by the family directs callers to a private investigation team — not Toronto police, who had treated the case as a murder-suicide until a Star story prompted them to review the results of private autopsies conducted on the victims’ bodies.

Kay, 78, who owns shares in the privately held Apotex, was vice-chairman of the company’s board of directors but semi-retired from executive duties when Barry Sherman died. He was called into action by the Sherman family and the Apotex executive team in the days that followed, and in January was reinstated as chief executive officer, a job he had previously held for many years.

Kay was working for a pharmaceutical company in Montreal when he was headhunted by Barry Sherman in 1982 to be vice-president of sales and marketing for Apotex, the company Sherman had founded in the mid-1970s. In an interview with the Star last summer, Kay described how he and Sherman hit it off immediately.

“For each of us, it is fair to say we were the brother neither of us had,” he recalled. “That day in Montreal, he said, ‘Jack, come work with me. We will build Apotex and we will make a bit of money and have fun.’”

Kay, a workout enthusiast with a crushing handshake who maintained a strict diet, was the polar opposite of Sherman, who loved chocolate and junk food and only exercised because wife Honey insisted, say long time colleagues and friends. Kay and his wife, Pat, often dined with Barry and Honey, and the couples maintained a close friendship.

Under Sherman and Kay, Apotex grew to a multinational and multibillion dollar generic drug manufacturer, employing 10,000 people as of this year. According to Kay, and interviews with other Apotex executives over the past year, the two men worked closely for 35 years, starting in a shared office when the company was small and later in adjoining offices when it became a going concern. “Our connecting door was always open,” Kay recalled in an interview last summer.

Sherman was the scientist and the idea man, Kay said, while his job was to “operationalize” Sherman’s ideas.

When Barry and Honey Sherman were killed, majority ownership of the company went to the Sherman children: Lauren, 43, Jonathon, 35, Alexandra, 32, and Kaelen, 28. None of them were working at Apotex at the time.

The Sherman estate has four trustees: Jack Kay, Jonathon Sherman, Brad Krawczyk (who is Alexandra’s husband), and Alex Glasenberg, an Apotex executive who manages the family’s investments. A court has sealed the estate file, saying it contains information that could be of importance to the police investigation and due to a fear of the family of “kidnapping and violence” if details of the file were revealed. The Star is appealing the sealing order.

In the past year, Apotex continued its role as Canada’s biggest generic pharmaceutical company, but has sold off some of the international business interests Kay and Barry Sherman had grown or purchased. During the summer, Apotex announced it had sold its commercial interests in the Netherlands, Poland, the Czech Republic, Spain and Belgium to “further accelerate our efforts to drive additional growth in the Americas,” according to a statement by Watson, who was hired many years ago by Kay and Sherman.

Kay had moved into Barry Sherman’s office in the Apotex headquarters at 150 Signet Dr., and photos of the two men together over the years — some in business suits, some in lab coats — adorned the walls prior to Kay’s departure last week.

According to sources in Canada’s pharmaceutical industry, there was growing tension between the 35-year-old Jonathon Sherman and Kay over what direction the company should take.

The sources say that Kay, as a shareholder and longtime executive, had planned to retire in the coming months but wanted to remain connected to Apotex out of loyalty to Barry Sherman and because of his institutional knowledge of the company. Kay wanted to make sure Sherman’s “legacy was protected,” sources say.

Jonathon Sherman keeps a low profile. He has briefly worked in some of his father’s non-pharmaceutical businesses over the years, and is involved in a storage company. He lives with his husband on a sprawling, heavily wooded property in King City, north of Toronto. Land registry records show Jonathon purchased the property at a cost of $2 million in 2006, when he was 23.

At the funeral for his parents, Jonathon noted that his father was often and understandably too busy to attend his sporting events when he was a child but, on the few occasions he did watch him play hockey or baseball, “those few games were my Stanley Cups and my World Series.” Jonathon also told mourners that his father was a “real-life super hero” and a “great Canadian.”

Of his mother, Jonathon told mourners that Honey was heavily involved in his childhood, making sure to attend all parent-teacher interviews and after-school events. “Our mother always had everything taken care of,” he said.

The Star has made several attempts to interview Jonathon Sherman about his parents and their legacy. However, the Star could not agree to Sherman’s terms — he wanted “sole and absolute discretion” to edit any information about him of which he did not approve.

At the funeral, Jack Kay told the mourners that “for 35 years I was incredibly privileged to work side by side, day by day with Barry.”

Kay said he was lucky to have “partnered with him as he built Apotex into the incredible enterprise it is today … Barry and I would refer to each other as brothers and I cannot tell you how much I will miss him.”

Kevin Donovan can be reached at 416-312-3503 or kdonovan@thestar.ca. Follow him @_kevindonovan

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12 strategies to manage credit card payments and debt

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Today, almost everyone carries a credit card in their wallets. It is used to pay for almost everything from groceries to flight tickets to gas.

If managed properly, credit cards can be an essential financial tool that allows users to build credible credit, earn money back and gain great perks, like purchase protection and insurance. However, carrying a poor credit balance can plunge you into massive debt.

“Credit card debt is very high-interest debt, typically in the neighbourhood of 20% or more,” said Scott Hannah, president and CEO of Credit Counselling Society in a report.

If you have a balance payment on your credit card, clearing it off can be a difficult task if you’re a low-income earner—or you’ve already incurred too much debt that after using a credit card payment calculator you know you’ll be unable to pay back.

However, no matter how terrible you think your current situation is, there’s always a way out that works best for you. With interest on loans compounding everyday, there’s little wonder why clearing a credit card debt is so difficult. In fact, according to MNP, an accounting firm, nearly half of all Canadians are less than $200 per month away from becoming financially insolvent.

Tackling credit card debt can seem quite tedious, especially with many people choosing to ignore the problem and just keep making the minimum payment. Here are some practical strategies you can take advantage of to effectively tackle credit card debt.

1. Gain a complete understanding of your debt problem

This starting point for anyone trying to get out of debt is to understand why you’re in debt, in the first place.

Critically examine all areas of your finances to determine if your expenses don’t match your finances or if it was due to an unforeseen circumstance such as a medical emergency. Whatever the case may be, it is very important to know the reason why you are in so much debt so you can effectively tackle the root cause.

2. Look into your spending habits

Typically, one quick way to stop yourself from running into credit card debt is to examine your spending habits. What are the things you spend your credit card on? Are they essentials or things that can be easily done away with?

According to Hannah, most people can only account for about 75 to 80 per cent of their monthly expenditures and the remaining gets blurry. It is important to track your expenditure—whether it’s an extra shot of drinks at the bar or a box of cereal from the supermarket. Knowing what you spend money on allows you to build a better financial strategy against debt.

3. Build a budget

Once you have a clear picture of what your monthly expenses are, building a budget becomes the most important step towards managing your income better. Having one central location for tracking both your income and expenses is great in curtailing unnecessary spending and getting you out of debt.

Your budget needs to contain all of your expenses incorporated from essentials like groceries, mortgage, medical care and insurance to others such as utilities. While most people struggle to stick to their budget, you can create some margin for flexibility to make it easier for you.

4. Increase your minimum payment

For most credit cards, the minimum payment is approximately 2 per cent of the last month’s balance. But therein lies the problem because if you consistently pay only the minimum, then the lump of that money goes straight to your interest and not the principal.

Paying some extra money every month would go a long way in helping you clear your credit card debt faster and reduce the compounding interest.

5. Ask for a lower rate

It is very possible to negotiate for a lower rate with your bank; only thing is, most people tend not to do so. If you find yourself struggling with paying back your credit card debt, you can reach out to your lender and ask them to offer you a lower rate.

Long-time customers who have a history of making timely payments have more advantage with getting their request approved.

6. Take advantage of a balance transfer promotion

In a bid to entice new customers, lenders run promotions periodically on balance transfers for their credit cards. Basically, these offers involve having a low-interest rate between 0 to 2 per cent for a limited period—usually between 6 to 10 months.

Always be on the lookout for a lender that offers the lowest rates and longest promotional period, which would give you enough time to clear your debt.

7. Switch to a low-interest credit card

Once you have critically examined your spending habit and created a budget, yet it is obvious that you will always carry over a credit card balance, then it is time to switch to a low-interest credit card.

While these types of credit cards usually have little perks, they are quite useful in wiping a couple of percentage points off your interest. Typically, rates on low-interest credit cards vary but they could be as low as half the interest on a regular card.

8. Begin an avalanche

The avalanche method is great for those who have a lot of debt with several creditors. This method means you’d make the minimum payments on all your existing debts and then add any extra income to the debt that has the highest interest rate.

Using the avalanche method allows you to reduce the interest paid while clearing multiple debts.

9. Use the debt snowball approach

Another debt repayment strategy that you should consider is the debt snowball method. In this strategy, you would focus on paying off your small debt first before moving to the larger ones—all whilst still paying the minimum on all other debt—regardless of interest rate.

10. Get an extra income source

Creating additional streams of income goes a long way in helping you clear your credit card debt. By finding a better paying job or choosing a good side hustle, you can easily put down more money towards your debt repayment.

There’s a lot of gigs you can offer today to raise extra money such as writing, graphic design, proofreading, teaching and programming.

11. Use a personal loan

If your credit card balance is quite high, paying it off using a personal loan may be very advantageous. While the interest rates on credit cards can be as high as 29 per cent, with a good credit score you can qualify for a personal loan at a lower rate.

The main advantage of using this strategy is being able to pay off multiple credit card debts and focus on making single but fixed monthly payments on the remaining loan. Also, you spend lesser money on interest costs and repaying the loan in instalment would boost your credit score.

12. Spend more cash

Despite being very valuable items, credit cards can quickly run you into massive debt when not used properly. If you already have some debt yet to be paid, it is better to spend more cash than accumulate more debt on your credit card.

Get a low-interest credit card but only use it in emergencies once you know there isn’t enough money in your bank account to pay off the accumulated debt.

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Anglais

‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Anglais

Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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