Chain reverses policy on political gifts
by Gerry McAuliffe
TORONTO—Four important announcements or disclosures came out of the annual
meeting of Southam Incorporated held in Toronto April 25.
The first announcement involves a major change in corporate policy.
For years, Southam policy has said the company will not undertake
any financial interest in any enterprise outside the communications
However, Southam president Gordon Fisher told a meeting of shareholders
and market analysts that Southam is expected to become partners
with the Royal Bank of Canada in construction of a large office-hotel
building in downtown Edmonton.
The Edmonton Journal is currently building a large $35
million production plant in the County of Strathcona on the outskirts
of the city.
Although the agreement has not yet been signed, Fisher said economic
aspects appear favorable. This would mean the Journal's editorial,
advertising, circulation and executive offices would be housed
in the new building on the existing site of the Journal building
in the heart of the downtown section of the city.
The new building would consist of 1,200,000 square feet. The
Journal would occupy 100,000 feet, the Royal Bank another
100,000 feet and the remaining 1,000,000 would be leased out.
Another change in corporate policy involves donations to political
parties. Two years ago the Southam board decided to end all such
donations. But in this year's annual report, Fisher said "at the
request of several directors, the earlier decision was reviewed
and reversed. As a result $10,000 was paid in 1979 to the federal
party in power and to the party forming the official opposition."
"The company's re-instated policy excludes political donations
to other federal parties, to provincial and municipal parties
and to individual candidates for political office," Fisher said.
Southam has reached an agreement with P.P. Publications Ltd..publishers
of the now defunct Montreal Star, to purchase the Star
plant for $16,000,000. In return, P.P. has an option to purchase
a one-third interest in The Gazette for $13,000,000.
The fourth announcement involved record corporate net income
of $39,650,000—up 19.3 per cent over last year. (And, in the first
three months of this year, Southam reported a 34.7 per cent gain
in income—ahead of expectations.)
In 1979, Southam newspapers enjoyed substantial growth. Advertising
revenue increased 22 per cent and circulation revenue by 14 per
Several years ago the Southam board accepted a proposal from
the United Church to subject the company to a social audit.
"This involved visits to a number of operating divisions by church
representatives and discussions or questionnaires involving several
hundred employees. In December of 1979, the audit report was released
and its summary found that Southam is operated in a socially responsible
manner," Fisher said.
Published in SOURCES May-June 1980
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