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(Darren Calabrese/Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press)
(Darren Calabrese/Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press)

Weston hires dealmaker as CFO, signalling action Add to ...

It seems that billionaire Galen Weston Sr. is getting ready to do some deals.

Weston's family controlled food company, George Weston Ltd. , hired a new chief financial officer Tuesday with a background as a dealmaker. Mr. Weston flagged the new man's "transactional experience" as a key reason for the addition.

The new face is Bank of Montreal investment banker Richard Dufresne, who becomes Weston's chief financial officer. Most recently, Mr. Dufresne was CFO at grocer Metro Inc. .

Mr. Dufresne is joining at "a pivotal and exciting time," Mr. Weston said in a statement. "We are confident that his strategic focus and transactional skills will be a valuable addition to the Weston team in achieving the strategic vision for our businesses"

Weston has a big pile of money available for acquisitions should it choose to make them -- its cash hoard stood at $3.85-billion as of October. The company said in its most recent earings release that it "continues to assess opportunities for the deployment of its significant holdings of cash and short term investments."

Through George Weston, the Weston family also controls grocer Loblaw Cos. .

There's long been speculation that there's a deal to be done by spinning out the valuable real estate in Loblaw into a real estate investment trust. Rival Sobeys did that years ago, and with REIT valuations in Canada soaring, it might be worth another look for Loblaw.

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