Canadian billionaire Jimmy Pattison says his phone won’t stop ringing. There’s nothing like a global crisis to drive deals to those with cash.
“We’re looking today at opportunities like we’ve never had before,” Pattison said in an interview Monday via video conference from Vancouver. “We’ve never been in better shape to invest. The question now is, where do we feel comfortable?”
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Sometimes dubbed Canada’s Warren Buffett, the 91-year-old Pattison has a view of the pandemic’s impact that few can match. He presides over an empire that operates in some 85 countries spanning an array of industries: supermarkets, lumber, fisheries, disposable packaging, theme parks, auto dealers and more. Last year, the closely held Jim Pattison Group Inc. had $10.9 billion (US$8.3 billion) in revenue and employed 48,000 people.
Pattison said he has been contacted by a number of private companies, some of them “significant” in size, that need money because of COVID-19 and the recession. He won’t speculate on where he’ll do his next deal. But he is certain that some of the economic changes wrought by the pandemic will be lasting. Airlines are out, downtown hotels face a difficult road back and the restaurant industry will never be the same, Pattison said.