Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. (TSX:FFH) has acquired 75% of Sporting Life, a privately owned sporting goods retailer with four stores in Ontario, including its flagship location in midtown Toronto.
Fairfax, which is primarily in the property and casualty insurance business, has been diversifying into other industries as well through a number of acquisitions.
Prem Watsa, the founder, chairman and chief executive of Fairfax, said late Thursday his company looks forward to being partners with Sporting Life founders Brian McGrath and Patti and David Russell.
“Today’s acquisition is consistent with our ongoing interest in acquiring strong, established franchises from entrepreneurial founders who want to find a long-term home for their business,” Watsa said in a statement.
Watsa made a similar comment in August when Fairfax bought the William Ashley China business from the family that operated it for more than 50 years.
Terms of the two purchases weren’t disclosed.
Earlier in the day, Fairfax got court approval for its purchase of publicly traded Prime Restaurants Inc. (TSX:EAT) in a $71 million deal that trumped an earlier agreement for Prime to be acquired by Cara Operations.
Watsa said after Fairfax surprised many by bidding for the owner of the East Side Mario’s and Casey’s chains and other restaurants, that his company was looking for “long-term businesses with iconic brands and experienced management.”
Fairfax is the largest shareholder of two well-known Montreal-based forestry companies — newsprint company AbitibiBowater and pulp producer Fibrek — who are both locked in a hostile takeover bid.
Sporting Life is a relatively small chain with three stores in Toronto and one in Collingwood, Ont.
Fairfax is a property and casualty insurer and reinsurer with big U.S. operations and a money manager that has proved successful with a value investing approach — buying and building companies into more valuable investments.
Fairfax was one of the few multinational financial companies to escape the 2008-2009 recession that was sparked by the credit crisis that battered banks and many insurers south of the border.