Prem Watsa – Chairman of Fairfax Financial Holdings
Prem Watsa is an Indo-Canadian businessman best known as the founder of Fairfax Financial Holdings in Canada.
He is also the Chief Executive and Chairman of the company, the lead director of BlackBerry since 2013, an Advisory Board Member of Ivey School of Business, and sits on the Board of Trustees of the Hospital for Sick Children.
* Stats taken from Forbes.com.
About Prem Watsa
Prem Watsa is an Indo-Canadian businessman best known as the founder of Fairfax Financial Holdings in Canada. He is also the Chief Executive and Chairman of the company, the lead director of BlackBerry since 2013, an Advisory Board Member of Ivey School of Business, and sits on the Board of Trustees of the Hospital for Sick Children. Watsa is renowned for his acute business sense and has been called the Canadian version of Warren Buffet for his strategically sound investment choices.
Born in Hyderabad, India, Prem Watsa attended public school in Hyderabad before enrolling at the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras. Upon completion of his studies in Madras, Watsa achieved a degree in chemical engineering and subsequently moved abroad to Canada where he resided in London, Ontario. He attended the University of Western Ontario where he went to the Richard Ivey School of Business and graduated with an MBA. Watsa stayed on in Canada where he started working for an insurance company. In 1985 the businessman made the firm decision to remain in the country when he took over a Canadian trucking insurance company on the verge of being bankrupt. Through his guidance, the company became what is known today as Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., reaching annual revenues of over US$8 billion.
With a corporate objective of achieving high rates of return on investment capital to build long-term shareholder value, Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. is focused on shared ownership and large incentives across the group. As part of Watsa’s investment methodology, he has reiterated that emerging markets should not be ignored and India has prime investment potential. It has not only overtaken China to become the international economy with the fastest expansion, its GDP has also expanded by 6.9% in 2017. According to Watsa, investing in emerging markets has a great advantage over established markets because of the massive speed in which their economies are growing. Some of the traded stocks currently advocated by Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. and Prem Watsa are Kennedy Wilson Holdings Inc., CenturyLink Inc., General Electric Co., Independence Contract Drilling Inc., SCANA Corp, iRobot Corp and Kulicke & Soffa Industries Inc.
In 2018 it was reported in the media that Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. is aiming at an annual growth rate of 15%. According to the media, Prem Watsa believes this to be excellent news for long-term shareholders of the company. He was quoted as saying that the company made record earnings of US$1.7 billion in 2017 and so increased their book value per share by 24.7%. The Financial Express reported that Watsa is particularly positive about investment in India and the US, and is less invested in China. It was mentioned that the businessman told BNN Bloomberg Television that he is only interested in dealing with democratic countries with business-friendly policies. According to media reports, Watsa also expressed excitement about opportunities in India because of investment-friendly policies implemented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.