Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon announced Wednesday that Investissement Québec will acquire nearly $100 million from Polycor, which has been a source of controversy due to its representation by a friend of the select group.
Mr. Fitzgibbon announced that this injection of public funds would allow the state-owned company to ensure, in particular, the maintenance of the company’s head office in Quebec, which is active in the extraction sector.
“Through this, we secure and strengthen a head office in Quebec, retain 350 jobs, and support a company that wants to automate and conquer new markets,” he said.
Mr Fitzgibbon was reprimanded by the Ethics Commissioner, Ariane Mignolet, in November 2020, for his friendly and financial relations with a lobbyist, Luc Laperrie, who had welcomed him into the company of business leaders, including Boullicor.
Mr. Fitzgibbon admitted he was “excited” about the quartz export project that Polycor introduced to him in the summer of 2019.
“My enthusiasm for Polycor goes back to before that,” he said on Wednesday.
Mr. Fitzgibbon said he has known since 2015 Polycor’s leader, Patrick Perros, whose company notably operates granite quarries in Quebec.
Recently, he met with the management of the company and referred the file to IQ in view of the quota announced on Wednesday.
Mr Fitzgibbon has ruled out any possibility, given the controversy surrounding his ties to Mr Laperriere, his involvement in the advertisement creating a new appearance of a conflict of interest.
“I forced myself to be here,” he said.
Chairman and CEO Patrick Beerus explained that Polycor’s major shareholder, Birch Hill Partners, has led discussions with IQ. “I didn’t have a date with anyone,” he said.
Mr. Laperrière was mandated, in July 2019 and August 2020, to take steps to obtain financial participation in the form of loans and shares. The funds were to be used in particular to create jobs and invest in rail cars for the quartz quarry project on the North Shore.
On Wednesday, Mr Perus said the project he commissioned Mr Laperriere for had finally been abandoned due to controversy sparked by his links to Mr Fitzgibbon.
In November 2020, Ms Mignolet noted a breach of Article 15 of the Code of Ethics by Minister Fitzgibbon “in the course of his exchanges and meetings with Mr Laperriere regarding the files of Alter & Go, Adstock and Polycor, where he had a personal interest that could influence on his independence of judgment in the exercise of his office.
maintenance in Quebec
With Wednesday’s announcement, the leaders of IQ and Polycor in Quebec own 20% of its capital.
As a government agent, IQ holds $60 million in preferred stock in Polycor and $38 million in common stock through its own funds.
Polycor was until very recently owned by the Canadian private equity firm TorQuest and two American investment funds, Wynnchurch Capital and PNC Mezzanine.
Toronto-based investment fund Birch Hill Equity Partners Management now owns the company through BH Polycor Holdings.
The government’s support is accompanied by provisions providing for the continuation of Polycor’s activities, as well as the maintenance of jobs and the company’s head office in Quebec.
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