Monthly Archive: August 2009

Drama or dramamine?

Harvey Schachter, the Globe and Mail reviewer, started off talking about my book in a positive way, calling it “well-researched and intelligent” but then veered elsewhere saying it lacked drama. Fortunately, other commentators have praised the book. Joe Martin, Director of Canadian Business History at the Rotman School, has said the chapter on succession “is the best I have ever seen on corporate succession in a Canadian context.” Tom D’Aquino, CEO of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, said: “This work makes for an important addition to business history in Canada.” As for drama, I would have thought the first-time...

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Blood, sweat and tears

Amidst all the kerfuffle about Manulife cutting its dividend, one question has gone unasked. But before I get to that, let’s review the proceedings. In a bid to build what he calls a “fortress” company, newly minted Manulife CEO Donald Guloien cut the dividend in half. The step, he said, would raise capital levels and yield $800 million annually for acquisitions. But capital is already hale and hearty. Manulife’s Minimum Continuing Capital and Surplus Requirements (MCCSR) must now be at 250, a historic high, and well above the regulator’s required 150. When Michael Lee-Chin recently sold the rest of his...

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You can look it up

Tara Perkins, the financial services beat reporter for the Globe’s Report on Business, seems like an insightful writer. As someone who has written about the topic for thirty years, I can recognize a good journalist over a mediocre one. It’s just that Ms. Perkins doesn’t read books. Or studiously avoids citing books in her field. Take today’s fine piece on Donald Guloien and his conservative stance at Manulife. She quotes the new Manulife CEO on the topic of last fall’s market meltdown as saying, “Those were very uncomfortable times.” I guess they were. Fine old firms crashed: American International Group,...

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