It attracted a great deal of local attention, but you might have missed that the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority announced on Friday that four respected Canadian financial executives have agreed to serve as members of the WDBA Capital Markets Advisory Panel.
There was no such “panel” when the Federal government first created the new WDBA Crown Corporation, but given the recent criticism of Public Private Partnerships (P3) by the Ontario Auditor General, our Board wanted to ensure that no stone is unturned as we undertake this multi-billion dollar project on behalf of the people of Canada.
Over the past seven months, there have been plenty of concrete steps to initiate the procurement of the public-private partnership to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the new bridge. One “big bucket” of work involves a review of financing and strategic opportunities available in the current P3 marketplace. Our new Capital Markets Advisory Panel has been established by the WDBA’s Board of Directors to provide independent counsel to the Board regarding the financing strategy associated with the New International Trade Crossing (NITC) project between Ontario and Michigan.
The four individuals are doing us all a favour, and on behalf of my Board colleagues and every Ontario exporter, a sincere thank you goes to Donald A. Wright (Chair), Dominic D’Alessandro, Sheryl Kennedy and Richard J. Kostoff.
If you’ve spent any time in and around the capital markets, you’ll recognize the breadth of experience that this Panel brings to the project. Mr. Wright is the former Chairman and CEO of TD Securities Inc. and Deputy Chair of TD Bank Financial; decades of experience on financings large and small. He has significant public service experience including as Chair of VIA Rail Canada, Governor of the Royal Ontario Museum and as a Director of Sick Children’s Hospital Foundation. All will agree that Don’s mind is as sharp as anyone on a Bay Street trading desk.
Mr. D’Alessandro was President and Chief Executive Officer of Manulife Financial Corporation from 1994 to 2009. He currently serves on the board of directors of CGI Group Inc. and Suncor, and recently retired from the CIBC Board. Given the huge demand for fixed income product that might be associated with the NITC down the road, as well as the liability-matching represented by a long term project such as this, we were so lucky that Dominic agreed to assist.
Ms. Kennedy is CEO of Promontory Financial Group Canada ULC. She served as Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada from 1994 to 2008 and chaired the Markets Committee at the Bank for International Settlements from 2003 to 2006. She currently sits on the boards of the Canadian Public Accountability Board, the General Synod Pension Plan of the Anglican Church of Canada and HIPPY Canada. Sheryl’s current international business activities will help ensure that we have a global view on the financing side, and her long history in Ottawa is priceless.
Mr. Kostoff is the founder and Chair of Temple Rock Holdings Inc. He currently sits on the board of the Ontario Finance Authority, is a member of the Independent Review Committee for Fidelity Investments Canada, HealthCare 365, Novari Health and the advisory boards of CommunityLend, FemMed and Straen Inc. He has advised a number of government and corporate entities including GMP Inc., GE Capital Canada, Infrastructure Ontario, OP Trust and the Hospital for Sick Children. Richard has been part of many P3 financings already, and has the helpful battle scars to prove it.
Our Minister, Lisa Raitt, loved the concept of the panel, and has been completely supportive of anything we can do to maximize the benefits of the Public-Private Partnership on behalf of both the taxpayer and all future NITC users.
With $120 billion of two-way trade each year, few government projects are as important as this one. That said, every entrepreneur should follow this rule when building their own Board of Directors or informal Advisory team: “When you have the chance in life, get the best.”
A sincere thanks, on behalf of every Canadian, to Don, Dominic, Sheryl and Richard.
(disclosure – this blog, as always, reflects a personal opinion and in no way represents the views of the WDBA, its Board/Staff or the federal government)