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Fourth-gen Paul Sobey appointed chancellor at Saint Mary's University

By Jessica Tasman-Jones

Canadian fourth-gen Paul Sobey, of the eponymous multi-billion-dollar family empire, is following in the footsteps of his father, becoming chancellor of Nova Scotia's Saint Mary's University.

Sobey retired as president and chief executive of Empire Company, parent of supermarket giant Sobeys Inc, late last year, having been at the helm since 1998.

He already serves on Saint Mary's board of governors, has made charitable donations for infrastructure and student aid, and was awarded an honourary doctorate of commerce from the university.

His father, David Sobey, served as the first lay chancellor of Saint Mary's from 2008 to 2010, and, like his son, had previously been awarded an honourary degree from the academic institution. From 1982 to 1995, David was chief executive of Sobeys Inc, transitioning to chairman in 1996, and then emeritus chair in 2001.

Likewise Sobey had long career in the family empire, which has interests in food and retail, working within it for 34 years. During his time at the helm of the company, he led the takeover of the Oshawa Group, which almost quadrupled the business in size.

He also led a $5.8 billion takeover in 2013 of the Safeway supermarket chain.

Sobey remains a director of Empire Company and Sobeys Inc, and a trustee for The Sobey Foundation, The Sobey Art Foundation, as well as chair for the Frank H Sobey Awards for excellence in business.

Sobey said he was humbled by the appointment, and that he was a “proud father and uncle” to several Saint Mary's students and alumni.

Empire Company had sales of CAD$21 billion (€14.9 billion) for the year ended May 2014.