Melnyk – one of the wealthiest

Tony Best,

Added 29 October 2011

There are some things people in and out of Barbados and Canada may know about Eugene Melnyk. The first is he lives in Barbados, and tells the world that to reach him quickly people should either call or visit the country. Next, he made his fortune in Canada’s pharmaceutical industry. Thirdly, like most rich people and wealthy corporations in North America, Europe and the Persian Gulf, he indulges himself by owning at least one professional sports team. But what’s not widely known is how wealthy he really is. Melnyk’s personal fortune was recently estimated at $923 million (CAN$1=BDS $1.96), according to Canadian Business, a leading publication. He was ranked the 69th wealthiest person in Canada. Melnyk, who is better known in Barbados for his involvement in horse racing, is the owner of the Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey League, a team that hasn’t performed well on the ice in recent seasons, triggering reports that he may be considering selling the team. It’s a story he has vigorously denied. Yes, he admitted, the Senators lost a pile of money last year, one estimate was CAN$14 million, but “no” the franchise isn’t on the auction block, at least not yet. At 52 years old, Melnyk is one of the youngest on the 100 wealthiest list that was led by the Thomson family that once owned newspapers in Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and other parts of the world with total assets valued at CAN$21.3 billion. Born in the Ukraine in 1959, Melnyk emigrated to Canada and founded Trimel Corporation, a medical publishing firm in 1982. But he sold it seven years later to Thomson Publications. He then launched the Biovail Corporation, a speciality pharmaceutical company which he led as chairman and chief executive officer and oversaw its gross revenues skyrocketing from CAN$19 million in 1995 to more than CAN$1 billion in 2006. He stepped down in 2007. Melnyk acquired the NHL Senators and the arena where the team plays, “Scotiabank Place” in the Canadian capital. He bought both out of bankruptcy in 2003 and is the team’s sole owner. But he has additional interests in sports. He owns the Melnyk Racing Stables Inc. and Winding Farm in Ocala, Florida, and he has ensured that all of his race horses and breeding operations have Barbados connections. For instance, his 2004 sprinter Speightstown won the 2004 Breeder’s Cup sprint; Marchfield took the 2007 Breeders Stakes; Tweedside captured the Coaching Club Oaks’ while such horses as Bishop Court, Harmony Lodge, Fisher Pond, Lodge Hill and Graeme Hall were top performers, carrying names of well-known places in Barbados. That’s not all. His racing colours are blue and gold, the national colours of both Barbados and the Ukraine. But Melynk, who also owns Bert’s Bar in Barbados, hasn’t been entirely free of controversy and his problems were linked to Biovail. In May, he settled lawsuits with the Ontario Securities Commission and the US Securities and Exchange Committee (SEC), agreeing to pay the Canadian watchdog agency a fine of CAN$565 000 and accepted a five-year ban on holding senior corporate positions in public companies. He also paid a civil penalty of CAN$150 000 to end a SEC probe into allegations of fraudulent activity at Biovail. He isn’t the only person on the Canadian wealthiest list with Caribbean links. Michael Lee Chin, 60, a Jamaican, is a self-made billionaire with assets of CAN$1.73 billion and was ranked 33rd. The son of a woman who sold Avon products door-to-door in Jamaica to help her husband, a store clerk and the father of their nine children support the family in the Caribbean, Lee-Chin is chairman of Portland Holdings in Canada, controls the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica; has an 85 per cent controlling interest in the United General Insurance Company, the largest auto insurer in Jamaica; and is the major shareholder in CVM Communications Group, owners of radio and television stations and newspapers. Portland Holdings joined forces with Risley Group to form Columbus Communications Limited, a Barbadian company with controlling interest in telecommunications providers in the Caribbean.  

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