Magna's rags-to-riches Stronach set to go electric

Fri Apr 1, 2011 2:53pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By John McCrank

TORONTO (Reuters) - Frank Stronach, one of the most colorful, controversial, and accomplished businessmen in Canada, is set to turn his focus to electric vehicles after letting go of the reins at Magna International.

Magna said this week that Stronach would step down on May 4 as chairman of the auto parts company that he started as a one-man tool and die shop in a Toronto garage in 1957.

It's now a firm with 96,000 employees that expects revenues of around $27 billion this year.

Stronach, now 78, joked at Magna's 2010 annual meeting that he would never really retire, although the idea of spending more time skiing and playing tennis had its allure.

"My own personal view is that Frank's taking all of those same features (that he brought to Magna) and he's going to apply them to the electric car," said Dennis Mills, a former vice-president of Magna and chief executive of the company's real estate arm, MI Developments, where he's now vice-chairman.

"That's where his passion is. And when he has a focus, it's like a laser."

Stronach has described electric cars as "a very very top priority."

"To me it's always been amazing when we add all the gasoline in the world ... it's like the Hudson River flowing down every day, and you don't have to be a great scientist to know that that will end sooner than later," he said at the company's 2008 annual meeting.   Continued...