New Brunswick

Jack Irving's family sells stake in major Irving Oil shakeup

Irving Oil announced Friday afternoon that the company’s owner, the Arthur Irving Family Trust, had bought out Jack Irving’s family and assumed full ownership of the company.

Buy-out represents major change in corporate holdings of New Brunswick's wealthiest family

John Irving, son of Jack Irving, pictured here at an event at Harvard University. Irving Oil announced Friday afternoon that the company’s owner, the Arthur Irving Family Trust, had bought out Jack Irving’s family and assumed full ownership of the company. (Harvard University Graduate School of Design)

There's been a major shake-up in the corporate holdings of New Brunswick's wealthiest family.

Irving Oil announced Friday that the company's owner, the Arthur Irving Family Trust, had bought out Jack Irving's family and assumed full ownership of the company.

"Over the past number of months, the parties have been working together to finalize this transaction and today announced its conclusion," the company said in a written statement.

Sarah and Arthur Irving speaking to Irving Oil employees before a news conference on Thursday. Sarah Irving is the executive vice-president of Irving Oil and is widely seen as his heir apparent. (Brian Chisholm/CBC)

Chairman Arthur Irving, whose wealth is estimated at between $5.8 billion and $9.5 billion, called the deal "an important day for the future of our company."

His daughter, Sarah, is executive vice-president of Irving Oil and is widely seen as his heir apparent.

The transaction means Jack Irving's son, John, no longer has a role with Irving Oil.

He was listed as a director of Irving Oil Ltd. until last September, when he was removed from the list, according to a public filing under the Business Corporations Act.

Jack Irving was believed to have owned one-third of Irving Oil, a stake that passed to his children after his death in 2010.

John Irving has two siblings, Colin and Anne. It's not clear if they also were part of the ownership stake in Irving Oil.

"We do not comment on the specifics of any transactions we enter into," said Paul Smith, the corporate secretary for Ocean Capital, the main holding company for the Jack Irving family.

"We have been proud to be associated with Irving Oil for decades, and we wish them well in their future endeavours," he added in a statement sent by email.

Smith did not respond to follow-up questions.

Latest divide in family business 

The buyout is the latest step in the dividing up of what was once a single conglomerate build by family patriarch K.C. Irving.

More than a decade ago, his three sons, J.K., Arthur and Jack, agreed to divide up the dozens of Irving companies among themselves, ending a web of cross-ownership.

Irving Oil Chairman Arthur Irving (second from right) has bought out the family of brother Jack Irving (first from right). (The Canadian Business Hall of Fame and Junior Achievement/Canadian Press)

J.K. Irving's family gained complete ownership of the J.D. Irving Ltd. forestry and shipbuilding operations which they had managed, while Arthur was given control of Irving Oil, with a sizeable stake in the company going to Jack.

Filings by J.D. Irving Ltd. with the U.S. Commerce Department in Washington showed no remaining cross-ownership between JDI and Irving Oil.

Irving Oil did not respond to a request for more details on Friday's buyout announcement.

In 2009, Arthur Irving's oldest son Kenneth, a former Irving Oil CEO, filed a lawsuit in Bermuda over his share of an offshore trust being established there by his father.

The trust, the ultimate owner of Irving Oil, was set up with Arthur Irving's share of an earlier trust established in Bermuda in the will of K.C. Irving.

It's not clear from Irving Oil's statement whether the "Arthur Irving Family Trust" that bought out the Jack Irving stake is the same Bermuda-based trust.

About the Author

Jacques Poitras

Provincial Affairs reporter

Jacques Poitras has been CBC's provincial affairs reporter in New Brunswick since 2000. Raised in Moncton, he also produces the CBC political podcast Spin Reduxit.

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