Canadian Underwriter

Fairfax Financial board includes former RSA CEO Bob Gunn

May 1, 2018   by Greg Meckbach

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Former chief executives of RSA and Guy Carpenter & Company LLC were elected to new terms on the board of directors of Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., Toronto-based Fairfax announced Friday.

Fairfax, the corporate parent of Northbridge Insurance and OdysseyRe, held its annual general meeting April 26. All 13 director nominees were elected by an overwhelming majority.

They include Toronto resident Bob Gunn, 72, who was appointed CEO of London-based RSA in 2002. He was CEO of RSA Canada before his promotion to CEO of RSA.

Brandon Sweitzer, president and CEO of Guy Carpenter (Marsh and McLennan’s reinsurance broker subsidiary) from 1996 through 1999, was also elected to the board. Sweitzer, 75, has served on Fairfax’s board since 2004.

John Palmer, who served as the federal Superintendent of Financial Institutions from 1994 from 2001, was also elected to the Fairfax board of directors.

Gunn and Palmer have been on the board since 2007 and 2012 respectively.


New to the board this year is Christine McLean, director of Research at Sprucegrove Investment Management. Her father, Fairfax chairman and CEO Prem Watsa, founded Fairfax in 1985. Benjamin Watsa, the chairman’s son, was also elected April 26 to the board.

Other board members elected April 26 are: Anthony Griffiths, 87, former CEO of Ottawa-based network equipment maker Mitel; Alan Horn, 66, president and CEO of Rogers Telecommunications Ltd.; Karen Jurjevich, 62, principal of private school Branksome Hall; Timothy Price, chairman of Brookfield Funds; and Lauren Templeton, 41, founder and president of Chattanooga-based Templeton & Phillips Capital Management LLC.

In addition to Northbridge and OdysseyRe, Fairfax’s insurer subsidiaries include Allied World, Brit PLC, Zenith National and Crum & Forster.

Fairfax completed its acquisition of about two thirds of Allied World July 6, 2017. That deal was valued at about $5 billion. Minority owners of Allied World include Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System. Fairfax acquired the majority of Brit, a Lloyd’s insurer, in 2015.

In 2017, Fairfax agreed to buy Auckland, N.Z.-based Tower Limited, which writes insurance in New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Vanuatu.

In addition to its insurance operations, Fairfax owns several retailers.

Toys “R” Us (Canada) Ltd. announced Apr. 26, 2018 that courts in Canada and the U.S. have approved its acquisition by Fairfax. Other retail chains owned by Fairfax include Golf Town and William Ashley China.

Fairfax also owns The Keg chain of steak restaurants and the majority of Cara Operations, which operates several restaurant chains including Harvey’s, Swiss Chalet, Milestone’s and Montana’s.



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