May 10, 2011 / 3:21 PM / in 7 years

Harris quietly replaces Stronach as Magna chairman

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Magna International Inc has quietly named Mike Harris as its new chairman, replacing Frank Stronach, the founder of the Canadian auto parts company, who stepped down last week.

Harris, a former lead director of Magna as well as a former Conservative premier of the province of Ontario, was elected late last week, Magna spokeswoman Tracy Fuerst said.

The company’s website was updated on Monday to reflect the appointment but no press release was issued.

The company’s lawyers had advised “there was no technical reason to issue a press release,” Vince Galifi, Magna’s chief financial officer and executive vice-president said in an email.

Harris and other Magna directors came under fire last year from several prominent Canadian pension funds and other Magna investors who opposed a plan by the company to pay Stronach nearly $900 million to relinquish control.

One of the complaints about the proposal was that neither Magna’s board nor its special committee offered an opinion as to the fairness of the deal.

The animosity appeared to have passed with Stronach given a standing ovation at the company’s annual meeting last week and each of the nominees for director of Magna appointed.

Magna’s shares were down 67 Canadian cents, or 1.3 percent, at C$49.89 on the Toronto Stock Exchange late Tuesday morning, down more than the market.

($1=$0.96 Canadian)

Reporting by Nicole Mordant; editing by Rob Wilson

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