Kleinsemmering, Styria, Austria Flag of Austria
Auto parts manufacturing
|Order of Canada (1999)|
| Thoroughbred horse racing awards:|
Sovereign Award for Outstanding Breeder
(1997, 1998, 1999)
| Sovereign Award for Outstanding Owner|
(1993, 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2005)
| Eclipse Award for Outstanding Breeder|
(2000, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)
| Eclipse Award for Outstanding Owner|
(1998, 1999, 2000, 2008)
Frank Stronach, CM (born 6 September 1932) is an Austrian-Canadian businessman. He is the founder of Magna International, an international automotive parts company based in Aurora, Ontario, Canada, and Magna Entertainment Corp., which specializes in horse-racing entertainment.
Early life and family
Born as Franz Strohsack in the small town of Kleinsemmering, Styria, Austria to working-class parents, Stronach's childhood was marked by the Great Depression and the Second World War. At the age of 14, he left school to apprentice as a tool and die maker. In 1954, he arrived in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and later moved to the province of Ontario. He currently resides in Oberwaltersdorf, Austria and Aurora, Ontario.
He married Elfriede Sallmutter, also from Austria originally. They have two children: Belinda Stronach, a former Liberal (and previously Conservative) MP and former CEO of Magna, and Andrew Stronach, who is involved in Thoroughbred horse racing, helping over the Adena Springs Farms breeding operations.
In 1956, Stronach started his first business, Multimatic Investments Ltd., in the old manufacturing district of Toronto. In 1969, his firm acquired its first automotive parts contract and merged with Magna Electronics. In 1973, the name was converted from Multimatic Investments Ltd to Magna International Ltd. Over the following decades, after several mergers and acquisitions, his business gradually became the major force it is today. Even though Stronach was part of the labour movement in the 1970s and 1980s, he is well known for his opposition to trade union representation for his employees.
Stronach has also been criticized for his multiple voting shares, which allow him to have majority voting power despite owning only 4% of Magna's equity. His pay packages in the past few years which have been around $30 to 50 million CAD have also aroused concern since he only holds the non-operational role of non-executive chairman, although he still wields vast power in this position. As a result, the Ontario Teachers Pension fund withheld their votes from Stronach and his close allies when it came time to re-elect Magna's board of directors. Some proponents of corporate governance have made analogies between Stronach and Conrad Black's control of Hollinger Inc. Stronach's response was to tell unhappy investors that "[i]f they don't like the restaurant, then don't eat there".
Thoroughbred horse racing
Stronach is the owner of Magna Entertainment Corp. which specializes in horse-racing entertainment and owns and operates some of the most prominent racetracks in the United States. Among his early successes was his partnership with Nelson Bunker Hunt in the filly Glorious Song who was voted the 1980 Sovereign Award for Canadian Horse of the Year. Stronach's horses have won the Queen's Plate in 1994 and 1997, the Belmont Stakes in 1997, and the Preakness Stakes in 2000. His horse Ghostzapper won several major races including the 2004 Breeders' Cup Classic, was voted the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year, and named the World's Top Ranked Horse for 2004.
In Canada, Stronach and/or his Stronach Stables has won the Sovereign Award for Outstanding Owner nine times. In the United States, he earned the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Owner in 1998, 1999, and 2000.
In 2000, Stronach won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Breeder. He subsequently established Adena Springs Farms which owns horse breeding farms in Kentucky, Florida and Canada and won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Breeder in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
Stronach was a candidate of the Liberal Party of Canada in the 1988 federal election for the riding of York—Simcoe, but was defeated by the Progressive Conservative John Cole. Magna International has also been noted for its connections to the Ontario PC Party and the Ontario Liberal Party.
These connections were most famously exhibited when Progressive Conservative Premier Ernie Eves and Finance Minister Janet Ecker delivered the 2003 Ontario budget from a Magna plant. This led to accusations that the government was violating centuries of parliamentary tradition, and is generally believed to have had a negative impact on the Progressive Conservatives in the next provincial election.
Activities in Austria
In 1986, Stronach founded Magna Europa, with headquarters in Oberwaltersdorf, Lower Austria. Stronach started to become a notable figure also in the Austrian public in the late 1990s. In 1997, he announced the project to build an amusement park in Ebreichsdorf, which would have included a giant globe representing the earth that would have been 110 m high and visible from every point in the Viennese Basin. The project failed due to severe public opposition.
In 1998, Magna took over Steyr Daimler Puch. In the newly merged company Magna Steyr, he successfully prevented the establishment of works councils, in violation of Austrian labor law by reprimanding workers who were cooperating with unions. In 2003, Stronach also planned to take over VOEST, but this project failed. In 2004, a leisure center and the horse racing site Magna Racino were inaugurated at Ebreichsdorf.
Besides horse racing, Stronach is also interested in football. He is the main sponsor of FK Austria Vienna, which, in spite of a budget three times larger than that of its strongest competitors and the fact that Stronach is at the same time the president of the Austrian Bundesliga, has failed to completely dominate the league, winning the Austrian Championship only twice since the club was taken over by Stronach in 1999. Stronach also founded the Frank Stronach Football Academy in Hollabrunn to train and educate adolescent players.
Due to opposition among prominent members of FK Austria Wien, Stronach decided on 21 November 2005 to withdraw from the club. On 24 November he decided not to seek re-election as president of the Austrian Bundesliga. However, the Frank Stronach Football Academy continues to operate.
Stronach has close ties to many Austrian top politicians from various parties. Former finance minister Karl-Heinz Grasser (then member of the Austrian Freedom Party, supported by the Austrian People's Party) worked for Magna for some time after leaving politics following a dispute with his mentor Jörg Haider. Andreas Rudas, a former leading member of the Social Democratic Party of Austria, is currently employed by Stronach.
On 6 September 2005, Stronach announced that he and Magna International were committing $2 million to start a model community for people displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The Toronto Star reported that "Magna Entertainment Corp. is [currently] providing housing for about 260 evacuees from the New Orleans area at a racetrack training facility in Palm Beach County, Florida and will move them to a new community in November. Auto-parts giant Magna International Inc. and MEC are scouting for about 500 to 1,000 acres (2 to 4 km2) in an area of Baton Rouge in Louisiana to set up trailers and infrastructure. "[W]e would like to build a small community where we would try to be sponsors for the next five to seven years", Stronach said in an interview with The Star  Further details were announced on 6 October 2005 and that the new development would be officially known as Magnaville. Later the name Canadaville was adopted.
In 1999, Stronach was made a member of the Order of Canada. In December 1997, Stronach was awarded an honorary Doctor of Engineering by Kettering University.
On 22 November 2004, Stronach was awarded the title of an honorary professor of practical business management at the Graz University of Technology.
Frank's Energy Drink
Stronach also is the founder of Frank's Energy Drink, which, although successful in Canada, has not sold well in the United States.