By Jeff Sanford
Boucherville, Québec — October 20, 2015 — The corporate tune-up at major Canadian automotive products distributor, Uni-Select, continues apace. The company announced it is bringing in a new Chief Financial Officer, Eric Bussières, as the company gears up for a new era of growth.
As reported earlier this year on collisionrepairmag.com, Uni-Select has been undergoing a corporate revitalization of sorts. The company recently sold its US auto-parts distribution to famed US investor Carl Icahn. The deal brought in $340 million to Uni-Select. That money was used to pay down debt, clearing the deck for a new round of acquisitions and growth.
As part of this revitalization, the company has also shaken up the management team. The board has already made way for a new CEO, Henry Buckley, who took the reins on August 1, 2015. But now the second most important position in the company has been filled. Bussières will take up his duties on November 30.
The experienced executive comes to the company with a load of unique experience. Prior to joining Uni-Select, Bussières spent over 10 years with major aviation company, CAE. He held various positions at that company before he ended up VP of Finance.
It is worth noting that the press release announcing the appointment mentions that Bussières has strong experience in mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Many expect Uni-Select to be busy on the M&A front in the years to come. Earlier this year, in a note to clients, Toronto-based investment house I.A. Michael Investment Counsel stated that, “With a clean balance sheet, Mr. Buckley has a lot of opportunities to put his stamp on the company and make proper acquisitions. He can guide the company in a new direction with a fair amount of energy.”
As the top executive in charge of finance, Bussières will be key to these initiatives. The press release distributed by Uni-Select this week notes that Eric has “coordinated important investment initiatives in Great Britain, India, Malaysia, Europe, Latin America and the United States.” Prior to joining CAE, Bussières dedicated fifteen years of his career to providing financial counsel to private and public companies with Société Générale. Before that he was with the Royal Bank of Canada, from 1991 to 1997. Bussières holds a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from the Université du Québec en Outaouais, a Master’s Degree in Finance from the University of Sherbrooke and CFA level III certification.
Earlier this year Uni-Select acquired Nova Scotia-based company, C.B. Hoare Auto Parts and the Colorado assets of Painters Supply Co. Stock analysts have suggested Uni-Select is currently undervalued. The company still has $78 million of cash on hand, no debt and access to credit facilities of $420 million. That is, the company is perfectly situated to engage in some serious mergers and acquisitions. With a new CFO on board, watch for some M&A action to unfold in the coming months.
The press release quoted Uni-Select CEO Henry Buckley as saying that, “Eric has a solid track record of supporting operational excellence and growth through successful investment and financing strategies within both private and publicly-traded companies. We are extremely proud to welcome Eric as a member of our leadership team and are confident that, with his extensive leadership, finance and M&A experience, he will be a key contributor in the pursuit of Uni-Select’s growth ambitions.”