Another one bites the dust - one of my favourite Canadian success stories is Ace Bakeries which just sold to an American private equity fund. Caroline Alphonso tells the story in her article in The Globe & Mail. Linda Haynes is the partner (wife) of Martin Connell and they are at retirement age so, understandably, want to sell.
At the risk of sounding xenophobic - OK, I'll spit it out. For crying out loud, why not give Canadian private equity a chance? IMAX, another beloved Canadian icon, was sold to American private equity partners and it was a rocky ride and we are all watching Lululemon. In comparison, private equity companies here in the Canada do a great deal for their companies. If there is a bump in the road with Ace Bakeries, it's a plane flight from Chicago to sort out the hassle and is there the same emotional commitment? Adam Smith, my favourite Scottish writer of The Wealth of Nations, was actually a professor of philanthropy. Yes, he was and it taught him pay a great deal of attention about this emotional side of humans and how it drives our work.
This emotional underlay, is the foundation of his book which is still a definitive text on how companies grow and how they get extinguished. Linda and Martin talk about their philanthropy in the Globe & Mail interview, but I would ask how much they thought about their employees and the Canadian economy by selling to American investors when there are so many fine Canadian private equity companies? Did they even try?
OK - I spoke to Linda and she tells me that one of their Board members had a relationship with a company in Chicago and they found a private equity buyer. There were 40 companies bidding on ACE. The private equity firm that bought ACE from this auction is not in the food business. I guess if you are selling, Linda tells me it's like an old affair - it's over, move on, no looking back. I get that - fair enough.