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Two Days in Toronto - Fairfax Dinner, Fairfax AGM


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Well, it was again two extraordinary days in Toronto!  Outside of Berkshire's big weekend, I don't think there is any other big multi-day value investing experience like we've now got going every April in Toronto.


Our Fairfax Financial Shareholder's Dinner was absolutely terrific again!  We had about 144 people attend this year.  Dr. Kevin Glasgow, CEO of the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of Canada spoke early in our dinner.  After dinner, Dr. George Athanassakos, the Ben Graham Chair at Ivey spoke.  Then Prem wowed us again by bringing a whole host of guests.  This year:


- Prem Watsa, Chairman & CEO of Fairfax Financial

- Francis Chou, Managing Partner at Chou Funds

- Sam Mitchell, Managing Director at Hamblin-Watsa

- Paul Rivett, VP of Fairfax and Managing Director at Hamblin-Watsa

- Peter Furlan, Analyst at Hamblin-Watsa

- Ramaswamy Athappan, CEO of First Capital

- Richie Boucher, CEO of the Bank of Ireland

- Bill McMorrow, CEO of Kennedy-Wilson

- Tom Ward, CEO of Sandridge Energy

- Bill Gregson, Chairman of The Brick

- Marc Bertrand, CEO of MEGABrands

- Moses Znaimer, Founder of Zoomermedia


Also in the audience were Mohnish Pabrai, Tim McElvaine, Benjamin Gallander and Robert Robotti.  Both Hamblin-Watsa managing director, Chandran Ratnaswami, and former Fairfax analyst, Wayne Cadawallder, came during the Q&A.  Chandran, as I told you at the AGM, you are more than welcome to come and sit with the panel...we have a seat for you!  ;D


Prem stayed for about half an hour, and then I had Francis moderate the panel.  The Fairfax guests stayed for over an hour and answered plenty of questions from attendees.  People have to remember that these CEO's are all incredibly successful in their own right, and to have them come, represent Fairfax and speak at our dinner, says everything you need to know about Prem as a leader!  Extraordinary!


Several of the guests stayed longer answering questions, and Peter Furlan and Francis Chou stayed much later.  Francis was still surrounded by a scrum of about 20 at 11:45pm, after all the tables and room had been emptied.  I thought it was about 10:30pm, and when I found out it was near midnight, I had to intervene and get Francis out of there.  Again, this should tell you exactly what type of person Francis is, and our guests have always been extremely fortunate to have Francis at every dinner, spending inordinate amounts of time educating all of us!  Thank you so much Francis!


We raised about $11,040 from the dinner this year.  Unfortunately, we broke even on ticket sales, as the audio video equipment was very expensive to rent for the evening.  I've got a baseline now for the event, so we'll price it accordingly next year.  You have all of these conferences that cost a fortune to attend, with virtually all of the profits going to the organizer!  I think the price to value for our dinner is easily ten times better than any of those events, and all of the profits go to a non-profit organization like the "Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of Canada".  You'll be paying $150 next year for dinner and the presentation, and $75 for just the presentation.  That is cheap for what you get...really cheap!


I'd like to thank all of you for your support, and also our volunteers who helped us out!  It's what makes our dinner so damn good.  Our large donors and silent auction winners really helped us out this year, as the cost of holding the dinner at the Fairmont is far more expensive than holding it at Joe Badali's.  But with the size of the dinner now, this is the reality and only option.  We will keep it pretty informal, with two short speakers sandwiching the dinner, and then our guests arriving for the Q&A.  I want you all to be able to converse about investing for most of the night.


The next day, the Fairfax AGM was also fantastic again!  There were over 950 people in attendance this year.  A number of booths dotted Roy Thomson Hall's pavillion, including our newly acquired non-insurance businesses...William Ashley, Prime Restaurants and The Sporting Life.  All had shareholder discounts or gift cards for shareholders.  The atmosphere was very much like Berkshire's and even Ajit Jain was present! 


Prem's presentation was more expansive this year, as he made a very big point of discussing Fairfax's insurance businesses.  He had some terrific slides on investments as well, so those who could not attend should view the slides on Fairfax's website once they are posted.  Unfortunately, I could not hear the Q&A, so you'll have to rely on NormR's notes once he posts them.  The Templeton Foundation donated 350 copies of "The Templeton Plan" for shareholders, and Fairfax was incredibly generous to announce that while the books were free, any donations to the "Crohn's & Colitis Foundation" would be much appreciated.  I was manning the both with Alnesh and Trish Long, director at the CCFC.  We raised about $1,680 from the book donations.  Thanks so much to Prem, Fairfax, Lauren Templeton and The Templeton Foundation!


A few other comments about the other events during those two days:


From everything I heard, Dr. Athanassakos's Value Investing Conference was a rousing success!  It was completely sold out, and attendants really enjoyed it.


The Fairfax Financial Shareholder's Pre-Dinner event organized by NormR was also a great success!  About 20 people attended and they had a ton of conversation on investing and investment ideas.  Francis Chou, Andy Barnard and Sam Chan visited the pre-dinner and answered some questions, so it was quite the treat from what I hear! 


The crowds were so big for Fairfax this year, that Roy Thomson Hall's pavillion did not clear until after 2pm!  Our MPIC Fund's AGM started a bit later than usual, and we had about 45 people in there.  It was great to meet everyone and answer their questions!  Alnesh, our directors Andrew Cooke and Glen Rollins, and I all had a great time!


All total, we raised about $12,800 for the CCFC, and I'm probably going to throw a little more into there, so I can say we raised $13,000+ this year!  ;D  I'll post some pictures once Alnesh transfers them over from his camera.  My thanks go out to Prem, Francis, Pat Hios, Vinodh Loganadhan and Paul Rivett for everything!  We'll see you all next year!




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Thanks for the long update, amazing what you have put together over the years ! Any chance we get to see the video ? :)


It is indeed humbling to see the Fairfax team and the CEOs attend and spend their valuable time with us. Unbelievable !




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Anyone attend from outside the US or Canada? I think I will make the trip from the UK next year. :)


Yes, there were several people at our dinner from outside of North America.  There were many people from outside of North America at the Fairfax AGM.  Cheers!

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