After 35 years leading Franco-Nevada, Pierre Lassonde – the founder of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business – retired from the company when he stepped down as chairman of the board earlier this month. The milestone concluded an epic career with the company he cofounded in 1985 and grew to its current valuation of $38 billion.
Franco-Nevada is a leading gold-focused royalty and streaming company. Since its initial public offering (IPO) in 2007, Franco-Nevada’s share price has outperformed both gold and other gold equities, and the company has been able to increase dividends for 12 consecutive years. Total shareholder return in the past 12.5 years has been 1,485% for a compounded return of 25.1% per year.
“After 35 years with Franco-Nevada, in one incarnation or another, I would like to thank all of the analysts, brokers, portfolio managers, and shareholders who have believed in us and helped us build this great company,” said Mr. Lassonde in his last address as chairman before taking on the title of chair emeritus.
“At a time when financial markets are racked by uncertainty, volatility, and violent losses in the face of COVID-19, there is nothing that gives me greater pleasure than to see our share price reach new highs and give our thousands of shareholders that extra support and comfort they deserve by having invested in Franco-Nevada,” he added. “That, more than anything else, is reward enough for me. Thank you.”
Mr. Lassonde and partner Seymour Schulich founded the original Franco-Nevada, developing it in the early 1980s to an initial capitalization of $2 million. In the process, they pioneered the concept of mining royalties. The company remained the leading public mining royalty company until 2002, when Newmont Mining acquired it for $2.5 billion.
The original Franco-Nevada team continued to manage royalty assets as part of Newmont Capital. In 2007, they incorporated a new Franco-Nevada after launching an IPO and acquiring a royalty portfolio from Newmont for $1.2 billion. Franco-Nevada now trades under the symbol FNV on both the Toronto and New York stock exchanges.
Mr. Lassonde founded what is now the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute in 2001. His initial vision was to create an entrepreneur center that would provide transformative experiences by bringing students from all disciplines together to collaborate on new initiatives, technologies, and companies. That vision has grown to reach thousands of students, and Mr. Lassonde has continued his support as the institute’s lead sponsor and visionary. His generous donations support programs, scholarships, and Lassonde Studios.
He was born in Quebec. After receiving a degree in electrical engineering in Montreal, he attended the University of Utah with his late wife, Claudette, and received his MBA in 1973. Since then, he has become a world-renowned mining investor and entrepreneur. Among many other accomplishments, in 1990, Mr. Lassonde authored “The Gold Book: The Complete Investment Guide to Precious Metals.”
Beyond his many professional accomplishments, he is a leading philanthropist in areas including education and the arts, he holds seven honorary Ph.D.’s from universities including the University of Utah, and he was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2001.