As a financier, company-builder and philanthropist, Seymour Schulich has few peers among his generation. He transformed the Canadian mining industry and launched one of its greatest success stories when he applied the concept of royalty investing from the oil and gas sector to the gold business and co-founded Franco-Nevada Mining Corporation with partner Pierre Lassonde. The company grew from an initial market capitalization of $2.3 million in 1983 to more than $3 billion in 2002, when it merged with Newmont Mining.
Schulich was born and raised in Montreal, where he earned a B.Sc. degree from McGill University in 1961. Upon graduation he joined Shell Oil where he acquired his affinity for the oil business. A $2,000 scholarship allowed him to complete his MBA degree at McGill in 1965. He earned a CFA designation from the University of Virginia in 1969. After a few years as a natural resource analyst, he joined the newly formed firm, Beutel, Goodman and Company. He became a partner and vice-president, then Vice-Chairman Emeritus, as the company grew into one of the largest pension-fund management firms in Canada.
Schulich was the first to apply the oil and gas royalty model to the gold business when he co-founded Franco-Nevada in hopes of gaining consistent revenue from production protected from cyclical prices. The company paid US$2 million to acquire royalties covering a small heap-leach mine in Nevada. The investment paid off handsomely when Barrick Gold developed the cornerstone Goldstrike property into one of the largest and most profitable gold-mining operations in the world.
Schulich and Lassonde formed a second royalty company and expanded their portfolio of royalties into other metals and commodities. In the 1990s, they developed the aptly named Midas gold-silver property into one of Nevada’s most profitable mines. Australia’s Normandy Mining subsequently acquired the mine for 20% of its shares and a 5% royalty. When a South African company made a bid for Normandy in 2001, Schulich and Lassonde convinced Newmont Mining to make a rival bid for Normandy, and at the same time acquire Franco-Nevada through a friendly merger. Franco-Nevada shareholders ended up with a 32% stake in the world’s largest gold-mining company, while Schulich became Chairman of Newmont’s merchant banking division, Newmont Capital.
Schulich has brought entrepreneurial energy and financial ingenuity to the mining industry, and bravely championed its causes on many occasions. His legacy to society is no less extraordinary, and has been aptly described as “one of the greatest expressions of philanthropy in modern history.” Over the course of a decade, he bestowed more than $150 million of his personal fortune to universities and hospitals. The list includes $20 million to McGill University’s faculty of music, $25 million to the University of Calgary’s engineering faculty, $26 million to the University of Western Ontario’s faculty of medicine, and $22 million to York University’s renowned Schulich School of Business and its new building.
Schulich has earned many awards and honors, among them the Order of Canada in 2000. He was named “Developer of the Year” by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada in 1998, and with Pierre Lassonde, was named “Mining Man of the Year” by The Northern Miner in 1997.