MANDEL: Stronach family feud the stuff of a Shakespearean tragedy

It reads like a scene out of King Lear: the usurped old father raging that he’s been cheated by his daughter.

But this isn’t a Shakespearean tragedy. This is the latest instalment of the all too common family feuds of the rich and famous, this one starring 86-year-old Magna International founder Frank Stronach  and his successor, daughter Belinda, as well as others, including his aspiring music producer and DJ grandson, Frank Walker, 27, and his competitive equestrian granddaughter, Nikki Walker, 25.

The Shermans, the Sorbaras, the Leons — all are wealthy dynasties torn apart by money. Now add the Stronachs to that ignoble list.

With his wife, Elfriede, Stronach is suing for $520 million in damages, claiming the family empire was wrestled away from him, his holdings were mismanaged and his daughter spent millions in company money “for purposes of maintaining her extravagant lifestyle.”

None of the allegations have been proven in court. Belinda Stronach, 52, as well as the others named in the suit have denied the claims.

We have to ask, why is a billionaire in his twilight years suing his own daughter and grandchildren? Surely there’s enough money to go around.

It seems it’s hard to let go.

We know the players in this power struggle well, of course. Frank Stronach is the gruff, Austrian-born rags-to-riches tool maker who turned his one-man shop in a Toronto garage into Magna International, the third-largest automotive supplier in the world. Bought out in 2010 for about $900 million, he stepped down as honourary chairman in 2012.

Auto parts tychoon
Frank Stronach is pictured on Sept. 11, 2018 in Eisenstadt, Austria. (ALEXANDER KLEIN/AFP/Getty Images)

The business titan’s net worth according to Canadian Business magazine is a cool $3.06 billion.

After Magna, the billionaire founded The Stronach Group to concentrate on his true passions: horse racing and cattle raising. The family company became the largest owner and operator of race tracks in North America, including Pimilco, home of the Preakness, Santa Anita Park in southern California and Florida’s Gulfstream Park.

In 2016, he reportedly put his daughter in charge.

( function() { pnLoadVideo( “videos”, “UHW7SCExt7c”, “pn_video_194445”, “”, “”, {“is_mobile”:””} ); } )();

“Until now, she has always lived in the shadow of Frank, whose influence has marked every step of her way,” wrote family friend and former MP Dennis Mills in 2016 in Racingfuture.com. “The shadow now becomes the light of hope for a new generation, as she takes the reins at the helm of her family’s business in the sport of horse racing.”

A lifestyle magazine praised her as the “whip-smart businesswoman who may be the sport’s best bet to re-imagine its potential.”

In the last few years, Belinda has been featured everywhere from Time to CNN as the glamorous blonde powerhouse determined to bring staid horse racing into the 21st century: she mounted the world’s richest thoroughbred race — the Pegasus World Cup — with a whopping prize purse of $16 million and ensured everyone from pop stars to supermodels were in the stands.

Belinda Stronach is pictured in 2004 when she was a Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate. (Toronto Sun files)

Meanwhile, her Instagram shows the heiress at galas from Vienna to St. Tropez when not boasting of her son’s musical prowess and her daughter’s equestrian feats at venues throughout Europe.

Belinda has long made headlines in business and politics. She had a stint running Magna and in 2002, made Fortune‘s list of most powerful women in business, the only female CEO of a Fortune Global 500 company based outside the U.S.

She stepped away from Magna to enter politics, serving first as a Conservative MP before famously ditching her sweetheart Peter Mackay and her party by crossing the floor in 2005 to sit with the governing Liberals.

( function() { pnLoadVideo( “videos”, “1iBTH_3gNd0”, “pn_video_125888”, “”, “”, {“is_mobile”:””} ); } )();

Her romances were equally headline grabbing. Married and divorced twice, she broke Mackay’s heart with her betrayal — he would deny her claim that he later called her a “dog” in the House of Commons — and was alleged to be the other woman in former Leaf Tie Domi’s divorce.

But it seemed her heart always belonged to daddy.

In 2012, Belinda was asked by former National Post gossip columnist Shinan Govani to identify the person living or dead that she most admired. “My dad,” she replied.

Now Stronach claims his daughter used their close relationship to mislead and freeze him out of the family empire he created.

The next scene in this sad blood feud will be Belinda’s statement of defence expected to be filed by the end of the month.

[email protected]

Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies