Izzy had his kids read up on next-generation flops - Macleans.ca

Izzy had his kids read up on next-generation flops


Back in the summer of 2000, when CanWest Global Communications Corp. bought 13 large newspapers, 136 small ones, and half of the National Post, the question around Maclean’s was about which member of the Asper family—patriarch Izzy or heir Leonard—should be the focus of our coverage.

I figured the old man was well known so I decided to concentrate on the kid. I spent a couple of hours interviewing him in his Winnipeg office the day after the audacious deal was announced on Bay Street. Leonard Asper was ebullient about CanWest’s $3.5-billion purchase of Conrad Black’s chain, but even in those heady days, he was conscious of the many sagas of family fortunes blown by callow kids.

Here’s what I wrote in the magazine that week:

Izzy Asper has been acutely aware of the pitfalls of soft-hearted offspring assuming control of hard-earned family fortunes. Leonard laughs about how books on family legacies that were frittered away – from the Bacardi liquor empire to the Steinberg retail chain – are “required reading” for the Aspers. “I’ve read ’em all,” he says.

Looks like there will soon be another book to add to that shelf.

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Izzy had his kids read up on next-generation flops

  1. Looks like Aspers skipped a generation. Doesn't the phenomenon go like: Grandfather starts business, father turns into something significant, grandkids spend it all on wine, women and song and destroy business.

    I also remember reading interview with Leonard Asper, I think it was, and he talked about how he was not happy with his father saddling the firm with all that debt just before he died. Leonard was well aware of the challenges he was about to face.

  2. Will Paul Anka be available at Leonard's send-off to sing "I did it my way?"

    Btw jolyon, didn't Leonard saddle the firm with more debt just a couple of years ago?

    • Dot, if that is true, that is an ominous foreshadowing of current Western government's approaches to dealing with more trouble: take on more debt and hope that some magical fairy makes all the trouble go away. We now see the Canwest result. We will soon see how the USA and the G7 fare.

  3. Ah, this is funny: being the National Post light, one can expect the comments here to completely miss the point. Take the National Post. It never made money in its entire existence, and no, this did not have to do with the financial problems that some newspapers are facing now. The Post's problems started from day 1, and had a lot to do with crappy journalism (ex. search "Reuters Asks Canadian Newspaper to Remove its Bylines," and this false article about Iran, which is still on Canada.com:


    (I'm no fan of Iran, but if we should be able to make a case without falsifying information). Canadian journalism took a nosedive with Canwest. The collapse of the company is for the better.