By COLLIN GALLANT on March 17, 2021.
Bill Yuill is no longer on the board of the Shaw Communications, which announced a blockbuster deal Monday to be acquired by Rogers, but as a major shareholder he “absolutely” backs the proposed sale.
“The two companies have been talking for sometime about what’s an obvious situation,” Yuill told the News on Monday.
The two telecom giants have a history of working together on certain projects, he said, but until now the family-run, Calgary-based company that was run by patriarch J.R. Shaw, was not interested in merger.
“Situations change and Rogers is looking to increase its position,” he added, noting it could be years before the federal competition board and federal cabinet rule on the conglomeration.
Yuill had served on the Shaw board since 2003, when that company purchased Monarch Cable Systems in the Hat and Western Canada in a cash and stock deal worth $90 million at the time.
Over that time, Yuill said, he developed a strong professional and personal relationship with Jim Shaw, who passed away in early 2020 at the age of 85.
That in part led Yuill to not stand for re-election to the board last fall. The decision was to allow for more personal time and put greater focus on his own business, the Monarch Corporation, as well as the charitable Yuill Family Foundation.
In April 2020, Yuill named longtime Monarch executive Brian Lund as president of the company, while Yuill retains the board chairmanship and duties of CEO.
“It’s time now to focus on my stuff here,” he told the News. “There were some tough times (in 2020), but we’re going to help it out and some other people, too.”
Last year the corporation divested its independent baseball franchise holdings, and the pandemic took a toll on its other activities.
Yuill’s Consolidated Sports holdings retains hockey franchises, including the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, and two minor-pro teams in Illinois.
That sector, as well as the Traxx bus line transport division, were sharply affected by the pandemic, crowd restrictions at sporting events and on travel. Yuill said he sees more positive times ahead in the economy generally, but still substantial challenges. He was personally encouraged by news Athletic Park in Medicine Hat would see $3 million in upgrades this summer. The Yuill-owned Hat Blue Jays played at the park from the late 1970s until the early 2000s.