York experts offer comments as BCE case begins

One of the most closely followed court cases in corporate Canadian history finally comes to a head today as BCE Inc. and its acquirer face off against the company’s disgruntled bondholders in the Supreme Court of Canada, wrote the National Post June 17.

The outcome may turn on a case in 2004, when the high court ruled unanimously that boards of directors have a duty to do what is in the best interest of a corporation, said Theo Peridis, a professor of strategic management at the Schulich School of Business at York University.

Directors’ decisions may not necessarily be what is in the best interest of shareholders, he said. “If this was in the US, I would be sort of less optimistic for the bondholders,” Peridis said. “Here, I think it’s 50-50.”

  • “If BCE loses and they cannot negotiate and settle the new terms with the conditions by the end of June (the banks) will run away and renegotiate the price,’’ said Theo Peridis, professor of strategic management at the Schulich School of Business at York University, to The Canadian Press June 16.

Peridis said the bondholders won’t go quietly if they lose at the Supreme Court. “They can’t. Would you if you were short $1 billion?” Peridis doesn’t believe Canada’s highest court will rule on the bench Tuesday, but will expedite the process by issuing a ruling by month’s end.

Nor does he believe the justices will produce a landmark ruling that will clearly define how corporate takeovers should be governed. “I don’t think it’s going to be a landmark decision that all of a sudden will drastically change the buying and selling of corporations in Canada,’’ he said in an interview.

“I don’t see that all, of a sudden, foreign buyers will get cold feet in buying Canadian companies. I don’t see those far-reaching implications, no matter what the decision is.’’

  • Rarely has the Supreme Court handled a case with such immediate and profound implications for a major publicly held company as this one, wrote the Edmonton Journal June 17 . “The Supreme Court of Canada will be hearing arguably one of the most important corporate law cases in decades,” said Professor Aaron Dhir, who teaches corporate law at Osgoode.
  • Osgoode Professor Allan Hutchinson also spoke about the BCE case, on CBC Radio’s “World Report” June 17.

Preparing for pandemic pays off, says York study

It pays to be prepared for a pandemic and could prove costly not to be, according to a study released yesterday that looked at the potential costs and benefits of companies readying themselves for such an outbreak, wrote the National Post June 17.

It’s not a question of whether one will occur but when, warned the study by Amin Mawani, an economist at the Schulich School of Business at York University. “The probability of a pandemic occurring within the next five years is not trivial,” states the report, which makes the business case for preparing for such an eventuality, from taking out pandemic insurance, to buying and stockpiling vaccine for employees. “The impact of a pandemic on employee absenteeism and its associated effects on lost revenues and incomes are also likely to be very significant,” it concludes.

  • Companies that aren’t prepared for an influenza pandemic will take a significant hit to their bottom-line when – not if – an outbreak occurs, according to a new report on disaster management, wrote the Winnipeg Free Press June 17.

Amin Mawani, professor in the Health Industry Management Program at the Schulich School of Business at York University, said medical experts agree the probability of a pandemic is three to 10 per cent in any given year, an event that could trigger employee absenteeism and lost profits of 30 to 50 per cent. “That could be catastrophic to individuals companies. Some small companies, if they close for long enough, may never open up again,” he said.

Mawani’s report, “Making a Case for Investing in Pandemic Preparedness,” will be presented today at the World Conference on Disaster Management in Toronto.

York professor missed his own best class with James Reaney

It was around the time of James Reaney’s huge success with his theatrical trilogy, The Donnellys, recalled York Professor Don Rubin, in an article in The Globe and Mail June 17, following the author’s death on June 11. I decided to invite him up to speak to one of my criticism classes in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts. Give all those young critics a chance [I decided] to meet this man who believed that theatre was about “play” in the childhood sense, that theatre was among the highest forms of poetry, that Canada had a history as mad, as dark and as nasty as any of the Greeks.

The morning of his visit, I woke up with the world’s worst migraine. I knew immediately I wouldn’t make it in. I called him and said that perhaps we should plan it for the next week. He said there was no reason to cancel the class. “Why don’t I just run it myself? I’ll introduce myself. I’ll get them asking questions. Not a problem.”

That night I started hearing back from the students: “What a fantastic teacher”; “What a great speaker”; “Real insight into Canadian theatre”; “I never thought of childhood as a theatrical concept.”

One of them also told me that Reaney didn’t actually have to introduce himself. He had apparently run into an old friend of his in the department – the equally inspirational [Professor] Mavor Moore – and told him that I was unable to attend. So Mavor Moore introduced James Reaney that day in my class and the two of them talked theatre for three hours.

And I had missed it…missed perhaps the best class I ever gave at York.

Prof suggests Flaherty should slow down on economic stimulus

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty yesterday repeated his call for Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to lower taxes to help producers in that province, wrote the National Post June 17. “We could use more stimulus from the provincial level in Ontario,” Flaherty said.

“You want to be careful not to overdo it with stimulus,” said George Georgopoulos, an economics professor in York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies. “The US is recovering, credit markets are improving and now we’re also seeing inflationary pressures emerge,” he said.

Milesvky book looks at human capital

Are You a Stock or a Bond? Is the new book by Moshe Milevsky, a finance professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, wrote the National Post June 17.

A big theme of the book is that of “human capital” – that is, one’s future earnings potential. For young people just starting out, their human capital is huge and life is a matter of gradually converting that human capital into financial capital. Older people have spent half a lifetime using up their human capital and converting it into a nest egg they can live on once they retire.

Human capital can be analogous to financial capital, which leads to Milevsky’s intriguing title. Your human capital is “bond-like” in nature if you’re a salaried employee with a defined-benefit pension plan – the situation Milevsky himself is in as a tenured professor. On the other hand, the human capital of an entrepreneur or investment banker is more like a stock.

Guilty without a trial

Like some of the complainants against Maclean’s magazine, I am a student at Osgoode Hall Law School, wrote Jonathan Mackenzie in a letter to the Toronto Star June 17 about the BC Human Rights Commission hearing into an article published by the magazine on Islam. However, I am baffled that Haroon Siddiqui would support the decision by Barbara Hall, chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, to pronounce Maclean’s guilty, even though her tribunal [had] no jurisdiction to hear the complaint against the magazine.

Her condemnation of the magazine sets a very dangerous precedent. What separates Canada from the banana republics of the world is the independence of our judiciary. Hall’s actions indicate the need for a swift reform of the commission.

Osgoode grad led Canada Games for 30 years

Jack Pelech ’s ambition was to make every Canadian raise a sweat and raise a flag, wrote The Globe and Mail in an obituary June 17. The 74-year-old lawyer from Hamilton saw sport as the best platform for health and unity in Canada.

Best known as Chair of the Canada Games for 30 years, he also helped launch the ParticipAction fitness campaign and sought to make his Ontario hometown an international player in sports. Pelech graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1959 and practised law with the Hamilton firm of Pelech, Otto and Powell.

Cyclists will commute if dedicated paths are there

For dedicated bike lanes to work in Toronto, wrote columnist Murray Teitel in the National Post June 17 , an expressway going straight through the centre of the city is needed. It could run alongside the Allen Road and University-Spadina subway line from York University (when the subway extends that far) to Eglinton Avenue West, where the Allen ends and the subway goes underground. Cyclists would cross Eglinton and travel through Cedarvale and Sir Winston Churchill ravines and Boulton Drive down to Davenport Road.

Gallery now hosting Web site theorizing on Thomson’s death

It happened almost 91 years ago, but there’s still an aura of mystery surrounding Tom Thomson’s death, wrote the Owen Sound Sun Times June 17. And the Owen Sound art gallery named in his memory is now the home of a new website project devoted to that mystery, as well as to the man himself.

Death on a Painted Lake: The Tom Thomson Tragedy is the name of the project. It was created by York University graduate student Gregory Klages and it will be kicked off on Wednesday night with a live tour of the project.