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Wallace McCain, Canadian Billionaire and Food Executive, Dies

Wallace McCain, the Canadian billionaire who co-founded one of the world’s biggest frozen-food companies, has died at 81 of pancreatic cancer.

McCain moved to Maple Leaf Foods Inc. in 1995 after a feud with his brother Harrison over McCain Foods Ltd., a company they founded in 1956 in a rural part of New Brunswick. Wallace McCain was chairman of Maple Leaf Foods, which announced his death today.

“Wallace was a local hero, a national champion and a global leader,” former New Brunswick Premier and Toronto-Dominion Bank Deputy Chairman Frank McKenna said in a statement today. “Along with his brother Harrison, he transformed Florenceville, a small town in New Brunswick, into the head office of one of the world’s most successful food companies.”

Maple Leaf Foods is Canada’s largest bakery and prepared meats company, and Wallace’s son Michael is the chief executive officer. The feud between the brothers was sparked by Wallace’s wish to allow Michael to succeed them at the head of McCain Foods. Harrison, who died in 2004, wanted an outside manager.

McCain Foods is one of the world’s largest processors of frozen foods, including French fries for customers such as McDonald’s Corp., pizza and juices. The closely held company says its sales exceed C$6 billion ($6.2 billion) a year in 160 countries.

Wallace McCain was listed as Canada’s 19th richest person or family in 2010 by Canadian Business magazine, with an estimated fortune of C$2.29 billion. His brother Harrison and family were the 15th richest at C$2.59 billion.

Wallace McCain is survived by his wife Margaret, four children and nine grandchildren.

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