It’s hard to blame Murray Edwards for wanting a fresh start. The billionaire financier—whose holdings include a portfolio of energy companies and the NHL’s Calgary Flames—left his longtime Calgary home last year to run his empire from the U.K. The move was criticized, with some analysts speculating Edwards had decamped to avoid tax obligations, but the mogul maintains his relocation stemmed from changes in his personal life and a desire to focus his attention on his global investments.
For the past few years, Edwards must have felt like the frustrated father to a bunch of disappointing teenagers. Early in 2015, he was forced to extend another $30-million loan to Imperial Metals Corp., in which he is the company’s largest shareholder, to help with the cleanup after a tailings dam burst at its Mount Polley mine in 2014. Canadian Natural Resources, where Edwards is also a major shareholder, ran into its own litany of regulatory infractions, minor oil spills and workplace accidents (one fatal), all the while slowly losing the confidence of outside investors. The 2015 share performance of the other oilpatch firms Edwards has major stakes in, Ensign Energy Services and Penn West Petroleum, was even worse. The golden child of Edwards’s brood has been Mississauga, Ont., aircraft parts maker Magellan Aerospace.
Despite Edwards’s claim that his move to London will allow him to step back from day-to-day management of his empire, there are few signs the 56-year-old is courting anything close to retirement. Last September, he increased his position in Canexus Corp. to 9.5%—making him the largest shareholder in the Calgary-based chemical firm—as the company faced a hostile takeover bid from Chemtrade Logistics Income Fund.
Updated Thursday, November 9, 2017