Robert Dépatie, the former Quebecor Inc. chief executive officer who quit after 11 months, citing health reasons, has quit his new job steering Quebec's most popular barbecue chicken chain after a three-month stint.
Laval, Que.-based Groupe St-Hubert said on Wednesday that it has accepted Mr. Dépatie's resignation as CEO. His last day is June 12. He will stay on as the company's chairman and serve on two board committees.
As head of Quebecor's Videotron cable unit for the better part of a decade, Mr. Dépatie engineered a dramatic increase in the unit's revenue and operating profit as it ballooned in size. He was eventually promoted to CEO of Quebecor Inc., but after less than a year, he said in April, 2014, that he was leaving. His departure continues to elicit controversy to this day.
The Montreal executive received a $7.8-million severance package, approved by Quebecor's board, that is still at the centre of institutional shareholder criticism of the media company. British Columbia Investment Management Corp. is among the investors that withheld its support for Quebecor director Michel Lavigne. It's the second year Mr. Lavigne has failed to win a majority of shareholder votes.
The timing of Mr. Dépatie's departure from Quebecor has also come under scrutiny. According to sources interviewed by The Globe and Mail, the CEO quit in the aftermath of a mishandled attempt by Quebecor's board to arrange a firewall between the company and its controlling shareholder, Pierre Karl Péladeau, who entered politics. Mr. Péladeau said on March 9 of last year that he would enter politics to make Quebec a country. That same day, Quebecor said Mr. Péladeau resigned his position as vice-chairman and that he had pledged to put his Quebecor shares in a blind trust if he were elected. The firewall, which the board mandated Mr. Dépatie to arrange, included yanking Mr. Péladeau's company e-mail access and parking spot, sources confirmed. The media magnate exploded in anger and the measures were quickly reversed, the people said. Just over a month later, however, Mr. Dépatie left Quebecor.
Mr. Dépatie resurfaced seven months later, recruited by St-Hubert as CEO to replace Jean-Pierre Léger, the chain's controlling shareholder. At the time, Mr. Léger, whose parents founded the restaurant chain, spoke of his hope that Mr. Dépatie would give St-Hubert a new push in the marketplace. On Wednesday, he said the company had been energized by Mr. Dépatie's presence after just a few months. But Mr. Dépatie meanwhile, said even after he left Quebecor and joined St-Hubert, he couldn't shake the thought of relinquishing daily corporate management work. "Despite this great opportunity entrusted to me by Jean-Pierre, retirement was a constant thought," he said in a statement, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family
At both Quebecor and St-Hubert, Mr. Dépatie took over the CEO job from the son of the company founders. It's unclear what Mr. Léger's role at St-Hubert will be now that Mr. Dépatie becomes chairman. The company said it would search for a new CEO.
St-Hubert employs some 10,000 people in 115 restaurants and also runs a food-making business that supplies items like sauces and meat pies to grocers and other clients. Top-line revenue is currently about $700-million a year.
Editor's clarification: An earlier version of this story said that British Columbia Investment Management Corp. was among investors that withheld support for Mr. Lavigne over the severance issue. BCIMC clarifies that it voted its shares against Mr. Lavigne this year because last year's vote result, which saw Mr. Lavigne fail to receive a majority of votes in the board election, was not addressed.