03/26/2012 04:58 EDT | Updated 05/25/2012 05:12 EDT

SeaFort Capital Inc.: Sobey, McCain Join Forces To Launch Private Equity Firm


HALIFAX - Two of Atlantic Canada's best-known business families have launched a private equity firm that will focus on investing in small and medium-sized companies across the country.

The board of directors of Halifax-based SeaFort Capital Inc. includes Scott McCain, a senior executive at Maple Leaf Foods and the son of the late Wallace McCain.

He is joined by Donald Sobey, who helped build the Sobeys grocery chain, and his son Rob Sobey, who sits on the Sobeys board of directors and is the chief executive of Lawton's Drug Stores Ltd.

Rob Normandeau, former chief executive of publicly traded Clarke Inc. (TSX:CKI), will head the new venture as president while Liberal MP Scott Brison will be its chairman.

Normandeau said SeaFort will buy Canadian companies with profits in the $2 million to $10 million range.

The company website says the firm's investments will focus on "old economy businesses, including manufacturing and distribution companies" and will avoid technology and science-based enterprises.

Normandeau said SeaFort's goal is to invest in eight to 10 companies, with a short-term goal of investing in two or three companies over the next year.

He said the firm is interested in buying family companies in smaller Canadian towns that are sometimes overlooked by larger private equity companies.

Normandeau said there are many aging entrepreneurs across the country who have created profitable companies, but who don't have any relatives interested in taking over their firms.

"I think this (SeaFort) will improve the range of opportunities entrepreneurs have when it comes time to sell their business," he said in an interview Monday.

In a statement announcing the company's formation, McCain said he expects the new firm will be built on East Coast values of "strong relationships and fair dealings."

The statement did not specify how much capital the new venture will have when it starts up.

Michael Milligan, president of GWF McCain Financial Services, also sits on the six-person board of directors.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version incorrectly said SeaFort was buying companies with assets in $2 to $10 million range.