Frank Stronach

Frank Stronach

Infobox Person
name = Frank Stronach



image_size =
caption =
birth_date = birth date and age|1932|9|6
birth_place = Kleinsemmering, Austria flagicon|Austria
death_date =
death_place =
occupation = Businessman:
Auto parts manufacturing
Thoroughbred racetracks
Racehorse owner/breeder
Humanitarian

Frank H. Stronach, CM (born September 6, 1932 as Franz Strohsack) is an Austrian-Canadian businessman. He is the founder of Magna International, an international automotive parts company based in Aurora, Ontario, Canada, and Magna Entertainment Corp., which specializes in horse-racing entertainment.

Early life and family

Born Franz Strohsack in the small town of Kleinsemmering, Styria, Austria to a working-class couple. His childhood was marked by the Great Depression and the Second World War.

At 14, he left school to apprentice as a tool and die maker. In 1954, he arrived in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and later moved to the province of Ontario.

He is married to Elfriede Sallmutter, also from Austria originally, and has two children: Belinda Stronach, a Liberal (formerly Conservative) MP and former CEO of Magna, and Andrew Stronach, who is recognized as one of the keenest analysts of horse bloodlines. Fact|date=April 2007

Business career

In 1956, he started his first business, Multimatic Investments Ltd., in the old manufacturing district of Toronto. In 1969, his firm acquired its first automotive parts contract and merged with Magna Electronics. In 1973, the name was converted from Multimatic Investments Ltd to Magna International Ltd., Over the following decades, after several mergers and acquisitions, his business gradually became the major force it is today. Even though Frank Stronach was part of the labour movement in the 1970s and 1980s, he is well known for his opposition to trade union representation for his employees.

Recently, Stronach has been criticized for his multiple voting shares, which allow him to have majority voting power despite owning only 4% of Magna's equity. His pay packages in the past few years which have been around $30 to 50 million CAD have also aroused concern since he only holds the non-operational role of non-executive chairman, although he still wields vast power in this position (Brian Tobin quit as CEO of Magna's entertainment division, likely because Stronach would not give him autonomy to operate). As a result, Ontario Teachers Pension fund withheld their votes from Stronach and his close allies when it came time to re-elect Magna's board of directors. Some proponents of corporate governance have even made analogies between Stronach and Conrad Black's control of Hollinger Inc. Stronach's blunt response was to tell unhappy investors "if they don't like the restaurant, then don't eat there".

Thoroughbred horse racing

Frank Stronach is the owner of Magna Entertainment Corp. which specializes in horse-racing entertainment and owns and operates some of the most prominent racetracks in the United States. Among Stronach's early successes was his partnership with Nelson Bunker Hunt in the filly Glorious Song who was voted the 1980 Sovereign Award for Canadian Horse of the Year. Frank Stronach's horses have won the Queen's Plate in 1994 and 1997, the Belmont Stakes in 1997, and the Preakness Stakes in 2000. His horse Ghostzapper won several major races including the 2004 Breeders' Cup Classic, was voted the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year, and named the World's Top Ranked Horse for 2004.

In Canada, Frank Stronach and/or his Stronach Stables has won the Sovereign Award for Outstanding Owner nine times. In the United States, Stronach earned the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Owner in 1998, 1999, and 2000.

In 2000, Frank Stronach won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Breeder. He subsequently established Adena Springs Farms which owns horse breeding farms in Kentucky, Florida and Canada and won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Breeder in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Politics

He was a candidate of the Liberal Party of Canada in the 1988 federal election for the riding of York—Simcoe, but was defeated by the Progressive Conservative John Cole. He is the father of Belinda Stronach, the Liberal MP for Newmarket—Aurora.

Magna International has also been noted for its connections to the Ontario PC Party and the Ontario Liberal Party.

These connections were most famously exhibited when Progressive Conservative Premier Ernie Eves and Finance Minister Janet Ecker delivered the 2003 Ontario budget from a Magna plant. This led to accusations that the government was violating centuries of parliamentary tradition, and is generally believed to have had a negative impact on the Progressive Conservatives in the next provincial election.

Activities in Austria

In 1986, Stronach founded Magna Europa, with headquarters in Oberwaltersdorf, Lower Austria.

Stronach started to become a notable figure also in the Austrian public in the late 1990s. In 1997, he announced the project to build an amusement park in Ebreichsdorf, which would have included a giant globe representing the earth that would have been 110 m high and visible from every point in the Viennese Basin. The project failed due to severe public opposition.

In 1998, Magna took over Steyr Daimler Puch. In the newly merged company Magna Steyr, he successfully prevented the establishment of works councils, in violation of Austrian labor law by reprimanding workers who were cooperating with unions. In 2003, Stronach also planned to take over VOEST, but this project failed.In 2004, a leisure center and the horse racing site Magna Racino were inaugurated at Ebreichsdorf.

Besides horse racing, Stronach is also interested in football. He is the main sponsor of FK Austria Vienna, which, in spite of a budget three times larger than that of its strongest competitors and the fact that Stronach is at the same time the president of the Austrian Bundesliga, has failed to completely dominate the league, winning the Austrian Championship only twice since the club was taken over by Stronach in 1999. Stronach also founded the Frank Stronach Football Academy in Hollabrunn to train and educate adolescent players.

Due to opposition among prominent members of FK Austria Vienna, Stronach decided on November 21, 2005 to withdraw from the club. On November 24, he also decided not to seek re-election as president of the Austrian Bundesliga. However, the Frank Stronach Football Academy continues to operate.

Stronach also has close ties to many Austrian top politicians from various parties. Former finance minister Karl-Heinz Grasser (then member of the Austrian Freedom Party, supported by the Austrian People's Party) worked for Magna for some time after leaving politics following a dispute with his mentor Jörg Haider. Andreas Rudas, a former leading member of the Social Democratic Party of Austria, is currently employed by Stronach.

Hurricane Katrina

On September 6, 2005, Frank Stronach announced that he and Magna International were committing $2 million to start a model community for people displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The Toronto Star reported that "Magna Entertainment Corp. is [currently] providing housing for about 260 evacuees from the New Orleans area at a racetrack training facility in Palm Beach County, Fla., and will move them to a new community in November. Auto-parts giant Magna International Inc. and MEC are scouting for about 500 to 1,000 acres [2 to 4 km²] in an area of Baton Rouge in Louisiana to set up trailers and infrastructure... 'we would like to build a small community where we would try to be sponsors for the next five to seven years,' [Stronach] said in an interview." [http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1126043418180] Some further details were announced on October 6, 2005 and the new development is officially known as Magnaville. Later the name Canadaville was adopted.

Honours

In 1999 he was made a member of the Order of Canada.

On November 22, 2004, Frank Stronach was awarded the title of an honorary professor of practical business management at the Graz University of Technology.


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