Ex-Four Seasons CEO Kathleen Taylor named chair of Altas Partners

  • Taylor took on new role this month
  • Will provide advice and support to companies in Altas’ portfolio
  • Has been member of Altas’ advisory board for four years

Altas Partners has named a pioneering businesswoman to the newly created position of chair.

Kathleen Taylor, the former CEO of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, took on the role this month, Managing Partner Andrew Sheiner told Buyouts.

As part of the job, Taylor will provide advice and support to companies in Altas’ portfolio. “We expect Katie will be an excellent resource, sounding board and thought partner for our CEOs as they manage and grow their businesses,” Sheiner said.

The appointment builds on Taylor’s prior four years as a member of Altas’ advisory board, a role that enabled her first contributions to the portfolio.

In 2016, Taylor became a key adviser to Sue Downes, co-founder and CEO of MyEyeDr, a U.S. network of optometry and eye-care practices. Managed by Capital Vision Services, the business was acquired a year earlier by a group led by Altas and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.

Taylor joined MyEyeDr’s board in 2017, supporting Downes and the management team on a range of issues and initiatives, including long-term strategy, organizational effectiveness and talent acquisition.

This month, Goldman Sachs agreed to acquire MyEyeDr for a reported $2.7 billion. The deal is expected to generate a return of about 3.5x for Altas, Buyouts has reported.

Starting out as a lawyer, Taylor was hired in 1989 by Four Seasons and over a 24-year tenure rose in the luxury hotel chain’s management ranks. In 2007, she became president and COO, and in 2010, CEO, making her one of only a few Canadian female executives to hold the top C-suite job.

In 2014, Taylor was appointed chair of Royal Bank of Canada. She was the first woman to lead the board of a major bank in Canada and one of a handful to do so globally.

Taylor also serves as vice chair of Adecco Group and as a director of Air Canada and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

Sheiner, a former senior Onex Corp executive, founded Altas in 2012. An early adopter of the long-life philosophy in private equity, the Toronto firm focuses on buying hard-to-replicate companies and holding them indefinitely.

Taylor told Buyouts Altas’ strategy “resonates with me very much,” noting she has “come to appreciate first-hand” the firm’s appeal to owner-operators “seeking a thoughtful and long-term oriented partner.”

Other senior members of Altas’ team include Managing Partner Scott Werry and Partners David Brent and Damon ConwayChristopher McElhone and Paul Nicoletti.

Investing to date

Altas typically selects one or two businesses for acquisition per year, investing up to $800 million in each. To date it has made seven investments, including MyEyeDr.

Three deals were closed only recently. In November, Altas wrapped up its acquisition of commercial-roofing contractor Tecta America as well as its minority investment in insurance brokerage Hub International.

And in February, the firm completed its purchase of University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, a physical-therapy school.