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The Transformers

For 14 years now, the V250 has data-mined the province’s biggest companies

Michael Ganley is the editor of Alberta Venture. BizBeat takes a big-picture view of the provincial, national and international news affecting Alberta's business community. He can be reached at mganley@albertaventure.com and @MikeatVenture

Sep 3, 2014

by Michael Ganley

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Here it is: Our biggest, boldest issue of the year. September’s Alberta Venture, driven by the Venture 250 list of the province’s biggest companies, is our largest project each year. You can only imagine the angst of the editors who have to pore over hundreds of financial documents on SEDAR to gather the data that forms the list.

We do this work because there is so much to be gleaned. We all know that Alberta’s economy is driven by the oil and gas industry, but just how much of it? Well, nine of the 10 biggest companies on the 2014 list are oil and gas producers or midstream companies (the exception being Agrium), and 65 per cent of the companies are in the oil and gas sector. And those 162 companies contributed 71 per cent of the total revenue of $415 billion (a figure that is up 3.9 per cent from last year). That our economy is so beholden to the energy sector is not necessarily a good thing, but that’s a discussion for another day. We’re simply gathering the facts.

We’ve broken the data down to discover which companies make the most money, which have the highest profits, which make the most revenue per employee, which are the best and worst on a capital gains basis and much more. And this year we also gathered stats on executive compensation. We discovered that Grant Fagerheim of Whitecap Resources got the biggest raise (on a percentage basis), at 357 per cent, that Richard Louden of Argent Energy Trust took the biggest pay cut (by 77 per cent) and that Boardwalk REIT’s Sam Kolias didn’t receive any direct compensation.

We also found that Albertan companies have been slow to move on gender diversity. Sixty-three per cent of the companies on the 2014 list have boards comprised entirely of men, and women occupy just nine per cent of board seats on Venture 250 companies. That percentage would be noticeably lower if not for the Calgary Co-op, where women hold eight of its 10 board seats. And only eight companies have female CEOs (and Nancy Southern leads two of them).

And then there’s the odd bit of useless but nonetheless interesting information, such as the fact that the most common first names for CEOs are David and John (10 each).

We chose change as the theme for this year’s list, not just because of the continuous change that we see within individual companies, but because of the ways that they are changing our province and our country.

You’ll see evidence of that change throughout the magazine, but it doesn’t stop there. Indeed, the information in this issue is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s much more online, so I encourage you to go to albertaventure.com/v250-2014 and do your own mining of the data.

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