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Thomson family, Canada's richest, increases wealth despite recession

The Thomson family, majority owner of Thomson Reuters, increased its wealth by 19 per cent to nearly C$22 billion during the year to late September, a survey of Canada's richest people showed on Thursday. The Thomsons topped the list compiled by Canadian Business.

“In compiling our 11th annual Rich 100 list, we were surprised to discover that at the tail-end of the recession the majority of Canada's richest had not just stopped bleeding money - they were making it again. A lot of it,” the magazine said.

From April to September, the Toronto Stock Exchange composite index rose by nearly 45 per cent - a rise further bolstered by the strength of the Canadian dollar. That translated into a C$7.6 billion rise in the net worth of Canada’s 100 richest people. Almost half of that gain - just over C$3.5 billion - went to Canada’s richest family by far, the Thomsons headed by the 3rd Baron Thomson of Fleet, pictured.

“The family of the late Kenneth Thomson was worth roughly $21.99 billion as of late September, when we finalized our calculations for this year," Canadian Business said. "That’s an impressive 19% jump from last year, when the sagging fortunes of the media industry had hammered the value of the family’s central asset: more than 455 million shares in Thomson Reuters Corp. But that really fails to capture the awe-inspiring windfall that the rebound bestowed upon Canada’s richest clan. Consider this: that $3.5-billion gain from 2008 to 2009 translates into $10.9 million per day, $452,500 per hour, $7,540 per minute and $126 per second. But even at that, the Thomsons are still well below their record high of $25.35 billion, reached in 2007.”

Thomson Reuters shares have fallen by C$1.99 in the past couple of months, carving C$907 million off the family fortune, the magazine said.

“But the Thomsons won’t need to worry about selling assets to pay the bills any time soon. It’s been three years since Ken, the kindly family patriarch who was frequently seen walking his dog around Toronto’s posh Rosedale neighbourhood, passed away. His son, David, is now head of the family’s collection of businesses, and serves as chairman of Thomson Reuters.

“Like his father, David shuns the spotlight and rarely speaks publicly. That’s also true of the other siblings, Peter - who is also active in the family businesses and sits on the board of Thomson Reuters - and sister Taylor, who has worked as an actress and producer, but plays little role in the family business.” ■

Canadian Business