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the lunch

Newton Glassman, a private man in the stressful world of private equity Add to ...

“Being around guys like that, they force you to be a better person. And they also don’t let you get away with anything. They don’t care if you are a CEO or a homicide cop, who’s one of the guys who rides with us,” he says. “Everyone is treated equally. If you are at the back of the pack and slow going up a hill or a mountain, you are pretty much going to get verbally abused. And you should be.”

One of Mr. Glassman’s big focuses is on building neonatal intensive care units. He wants to help fund renovations across Ontario.

“If you walk through Sick Kids’ NICU today, it will absolutely break your heart. The province should be ashamed of itself. It looks like a 1970s Russian gulag. You have families, and preemies with very severe problems, sitting [around] an incubator in a hall. No privacy. The people who work there are incredible, how much they do with so little.”

Catalyst’s charitable arm also is building a knowledge centre that will work with universities to provide investors, lawyers and judges with more education about credit markets. Mr. Glassman has harsh words for the way credit markets sometimes work in Canada, as judges have sometimes upset the traditional order of restructurings.

In addition to cycling, he spends as much time as possible at his cottage in Muskoka, getting into the water whenever possible. Growing up, he swam competitively and taught water-skiing. These days, he’s passionate about surfing, which he tried for the first time in Costa Rica around eight years ago. Closer to home, he wake surfs – trailing behind a specially designed boat surfing the wave the boat throws off. “There is nothing like the first time you catch a wave and just ride,” he says.

One thing he still has on his list of things to accomplish is starting a family. He is trying to set up his life to make it possible. A few years ago, the firm added another partner, lawyer Jim Riley, as chief operating officer. Last year, Catalyst installed video-conferencing gear at Mr. Glassman’s cottage in Muskoka, as a test run to see how the firm would run if he were spending less time at the office. Between Mr. Riley and Mr. de Alba, “ I suspect I am becoming redundant which is a-okay by me,” he says.

“One of the problems of building a firm like mine is I may have not had the right priorities.”

When he was at Cerberus, founder Steve Feinberg warned him about the personal cost of building a firm, telling him: “There is a massive difference between being one of the key players and being THE guy in charge.”

Mr. Glassman says that at the time, he thought Mr. Feinberg was “just yakking.” But if he knew then what he knows now about building his own firm, he says he probably would have stayed at Cerberus. “The job of being the guy is if you take your responsibilities seriously, it is all encompassing.”

But he knows it may be nothing compared to one day raising a kid. “I love kids. Kids are the coolest. I suspect it will make building my firm feel like child’s play.”



Age: 49

Family: Single


Undergraduate degree from University of Toronto.

Law degree from University of Toronto.

MBA from Wharton School of Business


Learned the the business of dealing with distressed companies at Canadian Corporate Funding Ltd.

Managing director at Cerberus, where his specialty was telecommunications.

Founded Catalyst Capital in 2002.


Surfing, wake surfing, swimming, water-skiing, cycling, skiing.

And his dogs, a pair of Weimeraners.

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