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Fairfax AGM, Shareholder's Dinner & Other Events


Parsad
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Whew!  I'm truly exhausted this year.  Somehow I got a cold the Friday before the event, and it continued to deteriorate through the week.  I was running on fumes by the end of this trip...still in Toronto and going home tomorrow after recuperating a bit today!  I'm providing some of the tidbits, as I was running around too much to take notes, so I hope Norm, Alan, etc (amongst many others) can share their observations when they get some time.

 

The events started off with Norm's "Ben Graham" Dinner on Tuesday night.  I would say about 20 attendees...double what we had the first time we did the "Fairfax Financial Shareholder's Dinner" at the same restaurant (Joe Badali's), so it is well on it's way!  Wayne Cadwallader, formerly of Hamblin-Watsa and currently at Elkhorn Partners,  came with me.  Plenty of discussion about investing, including the days when Fairfax made their LVLT debt deal years ago.

 

Next was the Value Investing Conference, which unfortunately I could not attend.  Perhaps others can share some of the conference ideas and notes.  I believe about 150 people attended and heard Tom Russo, Jeremy Grantham, Tim McElvaine, Gary Shilling, Rob Robotti, Francis Chou and more!

 

The bus ride to William Ashley and Sporting Life were actually worth it from a shareholder's perspective, as we enjoyed some of the finest chocolates in the world at Teuscher's Chocolates, and had a good discussion on Sporting Life's operational methods with their corporate recruiting manager who was our host at their store.  Alnesh bought a new house recently, so he spent some money at William Ashley and had the wares shipped to Vancouver.  I spent a small fortune on Teuscher Chocolates, as you can see in the pictures!

 

Norm's Pre-Dinner gathering in the York Station bar at the Royal York was a very intimate affair.  Packed, with ears enraptured listening to Francis Chou and his guests Brian Bradstreet & Tom Russo.  I'm sure that alone was quite a session and attendees were quite lucky!

 

Our dinner this year had about 145 people.  It was a beautiful ballroom as you can see from the pictures, and we had Dr. Kevin Glasgow (CEO of the CCFC) in attendance once again.  Other speakers that night were David Polonitza & Andrew Berger from AB Value LLP, and Ben Raybould from Arlington Value.  We had a terrific buffet dinner, the silent auction did very well with wonderful prizes, including a copy of Mosaic that went for $1,000, and the night was a rousing success.  The grand finale was Prem bringing in about 20 people this year.  We could only fit 10 on stage!  The panel included:

 

- Francis Chou, Chou Funds

- Mohnish Pabrai, Pabrai Funds

- Robbie Boucher, Bank of Ireland

- Mark Bertrand, MEGABrands

- Bill McMorrow, Kennedy-Wilson

- Jonathan Johnson, Overstock.com

- Madhaven Menon, Thomas Cook India

- Bill Gregson, The Brick

- Sam Mitchell, Hamblin-Watsa

- Ramaswamy Athappan, Fairfax Asia

- Paul Rivett, Fairfax Financial 

 

After the panel left around 11pm, poor Francis was corraled near the entrance of the ballroom by about 20 people, and I did not find him until 11:40pm...a new record!  That was swiftly broken by Tim McElvaine, who was surrounded by about another 10 people questioning him about Rainmaker...he did not get out until 12:10am! 

 

By the way, you guys should not only thank Prem for all of this, but Paul Rivett, Francis Chou, Vinodh Loganadhan and Pat Hios!  Those four really help me alot and shoulder much of the success from the dinner and events.  All my thanks to them, as well as my cousin Alnesh, our directors Andrew Cooke and Glen Rollins, our major donors, and the other volunteers who help out!  We raised about $17,600 for the CCFC, which could not happen without your generous support and friendship!  The exact final tally will be known after I receive the final bill from the Royal York!  ;D

 

The next day was the Fairfax AGM.  The crowds were much larger this year.  I would have to say at least 900 people plus!  Plenty of booths in Roy Thomson Hall...a very jovial mood everywhere!  Prem came into the hall and was trying to shake everyone's hand.  Crazy to see, but he's learned from the master that you make sure you see as many people as you can.  The presentation was very good and should be on the website soon enough.  Unfortunately, after that I was manning a table provided to us by Templeton Press.  They had donated several hundred copies of Sir John's "The Laws of Life" which were to be given away to shareholders, and any donations to the CCFC were welcome.  We raised about $1,400 more!  Thanks very much to Lauren Templeton and the Templeton Press for their generosity!  Again, hope some of you guys will share your notes...it would be greatly appreciated!

 

Lastly, the MPIC Fund's AGM had a very nice turnout.  I would say about 50 people were there, and it was great to meet many of our partners, friends, new guests and a host of young managers.  It was a fantastic time, but I was ready to drop dead by the end of it with my throat pretty raw!  Glad I don't have to talk for a few days at all!

 

So thank you very much for helping us raise about $19,000 for the CCFC, supporting all of the events and sharing your friendship and insights!  Truly becoming a spectacular event.  I don't know of any CEO who trots out the executives like Prem, and those executives do it with a single complaint...exhausted, they are there to serve you...Fairfax shareholders should be insanely proud of these people and their company!  Cheers!

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I had the pleasure to attend the pre-dinner meeting in the railcar (thankfully, I didn't have to do it new-delhi style ;) ), the dinner, the AGM, and the MPIC meeting, and they were all great, as were the people that I met.  I want to thank (again) Sanjeev and everybody who helped organize these events. It was my first time attending anything investing-related, and it'll be hard to beat!

 

I also had the pleasure of meeting many board members (and more lurkers than I expected -- come on guys, share your thoughts with us!). Everybody was very nice, and because I'm bad with names and not used to meeting so many people within such a short period of time, I remember the people but there are some names I can't recall right now (sorry! I feel bad about it). But it was awesome to meet all of you (Biaggio, Txlaw, VAL9000, Paul from Ottawa, NormR, Alvin, finetrader (briefly), and many more).

 

Here are some pics (if your browser window is narrow, you might have to scroll to the right to see the whole thing -- they're a bit wide for low-res screens):

 

http://i.imgur.com/Z6poWEZ.jpg

 

A few superstars dropping by the pre-dinner meeting. Francis Chou, Brian Bradstreet, and Tom Russo.

 

http://i.imgur.com/pKYlTKz.jpg

 

The actual dinner later that night. Hard to see, but that's Prem on the podium with his guests on the left.

 

http://i.imgur.com/iyPI9Y0.jpg

 

This is at the end of the dinner from farther back. Wanted to show how nice the room was. Right after this I stepped outside and joined the 20 people surrounding Francis Chou. He was so generous and answered everybody's questions (I just listened, though).

 

http://i.imgur.com/e6odNCz.jpg

 

The next day, Prem on stage at the AGM. He too was very generous and answered questions for hours.

 

http://i.imgur.com/HM8MKoN.jpg

 

On the train on the way back, the train stopped for some reason and right next to my window was this BNSF car. I thought it was fitting...  :D

 

So we're all frugal value investors, right? Can anyone beat my 75$ broom closet hotel room? :) It was within two blocks of all the event locations, so it wasn't just cheap, it was very convenient -- a good value.

 

http://i.imgur.com/d7V10u1.jpg

 

If you're having trouble seeing them, you can go directly here:

 

http://imgur.com/a/PhTAk

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Liberty,

I'm curious, what did you have as far as a bathroom setup in your hotelcloset. The room itself looks very nice albeit tiny. Any other amenities beyond bed and night tables.

I stayed in the same hotel as Liberty, in a more normal-sized room, and it was only $115 plus tax..  The Strathcona, essentially just across York St. from the west end of the Royal York.  Nice lobby, professional staff, clean room, good linen and bed, only real complaint was a too-small sink in the bathroom.  Would have no problem staying there again, esp. w.r.t. convenient location as Mike suggests.

 

 

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Liberty,

I'm curious, what did you have as far as a bathroom setup in your hotelcloset. The room itself looks very nice albeit tiny. Any other amenities beyond bed and night tables.

 

The bathroom was fine, with a regular sized shower. There was a small closet in the corner with (I think, not sure) a small TV on top, an ironing board behind the door of the bathroom, a small coffee maker, etc...  Everything was clean.

 

My main problem was that the bed was a bit too small for me (I'm 6'1", so my feet kinda dangled at off the foot of the bed), but even that wasn't a big deal.

 

Soundproofing didn't seem that good, but I don't think there were too many other people in the rooms around me so that wasn't a problem. It could be if you go there during a very busy time, though.

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