David Thomson

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David Kenneth Roy Thomson born 12 June, 1957 is a Canadian hereditary peer and media magnate.  Upon the death of his father in 2006, Thomson became the chairman of Thomson Corporation and also inherited his father’s British title, Baron Thomson of Fleet. After the acquisition of Reuters in 2008, Thomson became the chairman of the merged entity, Thomson Reuters.In January 2017, according to a report issued by Oxfam Canada, Thomson and businessman Galen Weston Sr. had as much wealth as the poorest 11 million Canadians combined.  As of June 2019, Thomson is listed as one of the wealthiest people in the world, with an estimated net worth of $37 billion according to Forbes Magazine.

He is the eldest child of the late Kenneth Thomson, 2nd Baron Thomson of Fleet and his wife, the late Marilyn Lavis.  His sister is Taylor Thomson and his brother is Peter Thomson, a venture capitalist and race car driver.Thomson attended The Hall School in London, England, and Upper Canada College in Toronto, Ontario. He received a BA (subsequently upgraded to an MA) in history from Selwyn College of the University of Cambridge in 1978.

Thomson started his business career as a junior associate at McLeod Young Weir in Toronto. He left the firm to enter the family business, working in a number of positions in companies controlled by the Thomson family. Thomson was manager of The Bay store at Cloverdale Mall in Etobicoke, and president of Zellers. In an effort to develop his independence, Thomson founded the real estate firm Osmington Incorporated, owned and operated outside of the Thomson empire. Osmington acquires and manages commercial real estate assets on behalf of institutional shareholders.

In 2010, Osmington sold its stake in eight retail properties to the Canada Pension Plan for $336 million. Osmington is a major investor in FarmersEdge, a precision agriculture company. Osmington is also a partner in True North Sports and Entertainment, owners of the National Hockey League’s Winnipeg Jets and the Bell MTS Place in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba. Osmington is redeveloping the retail space of Toronto’s Union Station. Thomson’s investment activities are managed through Toronto hedge fund Morgan Bay Capital, which he created with longtime financial advisor, foreign exchange trader and consigliere, Patrick M. Phillips, vice president of Woodbridge, the Thomson family holding company.

According to a plan devised decades ago by Thomson Corporation founder Roy Thomson, when Kenneth Thomson died (in June 2006), control of the family fortune passed on to David.David’s grandfather, Roy Thomson founded the media and publishing company, which is now owned and operated by his 3rd generation. “David, my grandson, will have to take his part in the running of the Organisation and David’s son, too,” Roy Thomson wrote in his 1975 autobiography. “With the fortune that we will leave to them go also responsibilities. These Thomson boys that come after Ken are not going to be able, even if they want to, to shrug off these responsibilities.”

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Woodbridge, a private holding company in Canada runs the family business, holding 57% of Thomson Reuters, with David Thomson serving as its chairman. Peter Thomson, David’s brother, is the co-chair at Woodbridge, and holds assets of the 7 grandchildren of Roy Thomson. Stocks of Thomson Reuters make for 70% of the total fortune of the family. David had expanded his Thomson Reuters on a global level, employing around 55,000 people across 100 countries.

However, they also hold stakes in The Globe & Mail, a Canadian news operation, and Strategic Hotels and Resorts. David Thomson is the co-owner of Winnipeg Jets of the National Hockey League, with minority stake in the NHL hockey team of Montreal Canadiens. He is also on boards of several private companies, not only in Canada, but also abroad.

David Thomson leads an unconventional lifestyle, different from most other wealthy individuals. Thomson is an aggressive art collector and owns works by Rembrandt, J. M. W. Turner, Paul Klee, Hammershoi, Edvard Munch, Patrick Heron, Joseph Beuys, E. L. Kirchner, and Egon Schiele. Thomson owns the world’s largest collection of paintings and drawings by the English romance painter John Constable and he has broken myriad prize records while acquiring some of the world most expensive paintings. In 1984, he acquired J. M. W. Turner’s spectacular ‘Seascape: Folkestone”, for a record £7.3 million (£21.8 million in 2017) from the sale of the collection of noted British art historian Kenneth Clark.  

The following year, Thomson, 27, broke another world record when he bought Rembrandt’s monumental “Christ Presented to the People”, from 1655, for a record £561,000 (£1.7 million in 2017) at Christie’s London, when the Duke of Devonshire sold the Chatsworth Collection in one of the largest auctions of the time. Thomson sold both masterpieces within a few years during the 1980s financial crisis.In 2002, Thomson and his father paid a world record price of $76.7 million to acquire Rubens’ “Massacre of the Innocents”, now the centrepiece of the Thomson Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Thomson is an active acquirer of Canadian art and paid a record C$11.2 million in November, 2016, to buy a painting at auction by Group of Seven artist Lawren Harris entitled “Mountain Forms”. In 2012, Thomson shattered records buying a painting by Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershoi, “Ida Reading a Letter”, paying the highest price ever for a Danish artist.

In 2012, Thomson broke the record for the most expensive 18th-century British watercolour when he paid £2.4 million for a small landscape by John Robert Cozens. In 2007, Thomson paid $1.8 million for a face mask, the highest price ever paid for a single piece of Native North American art. Thomson has rarely given interviews to the press and maintains a low public profile. “The only substantial interview he has given was to James FitzGerald, who wrote a book about the elite private school (Upper Canada College) they both attended in Toronto”, according to a July 3, 2006, article in The New York Times. “

In his comments to Mr. FitzGerald 12 years ago, David had little positive to say about many people in the business world”. In the interview, Thomson said: “When you try to live a more balanced life, traditional businessmen think that you are not a real man. But who is not the real man? You are telling me? You have not taken a weekend with your wife, you have no spare time that you use constructively, you do not have any hobbies, you do not know how to spell Mozart. And here you are telling me that I am weak?”With his continuing efforts and innovations, David has yet to make several developments in his business and bring his family name to new heights of success and wealth.