The Fonds FTQ helped the Ontario buyer of Club Piscine

The FTQ Fund helped the Ontario buyer of Club Piscine

UPGRADE DAY

The Club Piscine Super Fitness chain of stores recently became the property of an Ontario firm and, surprisingly, the Fonds de solidarité FTQ lent $20 million to its buyer.

The latter is Ontario's VODA Backyard Leisure Group, which brings together two other Canadian companies in the sector.

VODA is owned by an Ontario fund managed by Fulcrum Capital Partners, an established investment firm in Toronto and Vancouver. 

Earlier this year, the Fonds FTQ quietly loaned $20 million to VODA and invested $6.5 million in Fulcrum's fund which acquired Club Piscine's new parent company.

“ It was time for us to move on to another stage in our growth and that required a change of shareholders,” explains Marc Gentile, the franchisor's new CEO, over the phone.

Marc Gentile, CEO of Club Piscine Super Fitness.

Founder's family sells

Until then, Club Piscine belonged to the family of Robert Aumont, who founded the company in 1991 and who died in 2017, as well as to other investors.

Quebecers remain shareholders of Club Piscine, but Fulcrum now controls the company through its majority stake. The group will continue to be managed from the head office in Bois-des-Filion, north of Laval, where approximately 75 people work.

“Club Piscine remains Quebecois,” assures Mr. Gentile. The 26 franchisees [who operate the chain's 42 stores] are all Quebecers. »

For Fulcrum, Club Piscine is a great catch: Quebec is one of the best markets in the world for above-ground pools and spas.

Paul Eldridge , partner at Fulcrum, is reassuring. According to him, the transaction could be good for consumers here.

“When you are part of a larger company, you have the opportunity to offer better products at better prices. he says.

No Quebec buyer

The situation is not ideal, recognizes the Fonds FTQ, which would have preferred a Quebec buyer to come forward.

“When you have a partner like Fulcrum, which is committed to Quebec, and you don't know if a foreign buyer might show interest… It's certain that we favor Quebec buyers of first and foremost. But when there aren't any and we can have a commitment [to maintain jobs in Quebec], it's a winning solution for Club Piscine workers and Quebec consumers,” says Patrick McQuilken, spokesperson for the Fonds FTQ.

“Under the rules that apply to the Fonds, it is permitted [to invest in a company outside Québec] as long as we are able to demonstrate economic spinoffs in Quebec,” he adds.

Even if Club Piscine expects to benefit from “purchasing synergies” by passing under the leadership of VODA, there is no question of jettisoning the retailer's Quebec suppliers.

“Our spas come from Lachute, our heat pumps come from Trois-Rivières and our swimming pools come from Saint-Hyacinthe, points out Marc Gentile. We're not going to change that. […] The Quebec customer likes “made in Quebec”. »

SUPER FITNESS SWIMMING POOL CLUB

  • Founded: 1991
  • Branches: 42
  • Employees: more than 2500

More and more money invested outside Quebec

The Fonds de solidarité FTQ is investing more and more outside Quebec, noted Le Journal.

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Founded in 1983 by Louis Laberge thanks to a law of the second PQ government of René Lévesque, the Fonds FTQ's mission is to invest in the development of Quebec companies.

But since 2017, the amounts that the institution invests in funds or companies established outside Quebec have jumped by 144%, from $69 million to $168 million per year.

< strong>Helping Quebec funds

This is how the Fonds FTQ became a shareholder of Wealthsimple, a Toronto financial firm controlled by Power Corporation, and of WorkFusion, a software company New York.

How is this possible? These companies include Quebec funds among their shareholders, namely W Investments in the case of Wealthsimple and Novacap in the case of WorkFusion.

It is to support Québec asset managers, who are still relatively few in number, that the Fonds FTQ entrusts them with sums to invest – whether in Québec or outside.

Returns in Quebec

The Fonds FTQ also has the right to invest money in funds or companies outside Quebec when it is sure that this will economic benefits in the province – in contracts, jobs or otherwise.

For example, the Fonds FTQ has entrusted sums of money to funds from the Californian firm Versant Ventures, which in turn invest in Quebec companies.

And it has become a shareholder in the Vancouver pharmaceutical firm Zymeworks , which carries out part of its research activities in Quebec.

At the end of May, the Fonds FTQ held $581 million in investments in funds and companies outside Quebec, or 3.3% of its net assets. 

To this must be added the Fund's stock and bond investments, which are largely held in entities outside Quebec.

At the end of May, the net assets of the Fonds FTQ amounted to $17.4 billion.

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