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Mulroney implies Peladeau's eventual return to Quebecor is inevitable

MONTREAL – Although there are no immediate plans for Pierre Karl Peladeau to return to a decision-making role at Quebecor Inc., chairman Brian Mulroney implied Thursday it is just a matter of time before he comes back in some capacity.

Peladeau was not present at Quebecor’s annual meeting, but his name was still front and centre.

Mulroney said Peladeau is not currently interested in returning to Quebecor (TSX:QBR.B) as he deals with what the former prime minister called a “personal problem.”

“It’s his total priority,” Mulroney said in response to a question from a shareholder. “I met with him and he didn’t speak to me about anything else.

“He expressed no interest in returning to (Quebecor) in a decision-making position in the near future.”

Peladeau surprised observers last week when he announced he was quitting as Parti Quebecois leader and leaving politics entirely to spend more time with his children. He and his estranged wife, Julie Snyder, are currently in divorce mediation.

At a later news conference Thursday, Mulroney suggested his return to Quebecor at some point is inevitable.

The ex-prime minister noted Peladeau is still Quebecor’s controlling shareholder and that it is entirely possible they would eventually meet to discuss the ex-PQ leader’s future role in the company.

“He is 52 or 53 years old (Peladeau is actually 54), I imagine he isn’t ready to retire,” he said.

Although he did not say what type of position Peladeau would fill, Mulroney did not dismiss a scenario in which he would play a lesser role within Quebecor.

During the meeting, Mulroney read a statement from Peladeau in which he expressed his trust in the current management team.

Earlier on Thursday, Quebecor said it was raising its quarterly dividend by 29 per cent, to 4.5 cents per share from 3.5 cents per share, payable June 21.

The Montreal-based parent of Videotron announced total first-quarter revenue grew five per cent to $975.4 million from $929 million, while net income more than doubled to $69.9 million from $29.4 million.

Adjusted income rose to $67.7 million from $41.4 million.

The profit amounted to 57 cents per share, or 55 cents after adjustments — up from 24 cents net income and 34 cents adjusted earnings in the first quarter of 2015.

“We remain very upbeat about the corporation’s ability to generate growing cash flows,” said Quebecor chief financial officer, Jean-Francois Pruneau.