Ronald Southern, Canadian Energy Entrepreneur, Dies at 85

  • Southern was founder of Atco Ltd., Spruce Meadows show jumping
  • Prominent Calgary businessman survived by wife, two daughters

Ron Southern, the founder of one of Canada’s biggest utilities and host of a renowned equestrian event in Alberta each year, has died. He was 85.

His death on Thursday was announced by Atco Ltd. and Akita Drilling Ltd., both founded by him, in online statements. Spruce Meadows, the Southern family’s horse show jumping facility south of Calgary, also posted an online tribute. No cause was given.

Southern was a billionaire before the oil market crash that began in 2014 reduced his net worth, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. He was the controlling shareholder of Atco, a power generator and logistics company that grew from businesses he founded in the 1940s, and Akita, an oil and natural gas driller that was spun out of Atco in 1993.

Southern also founded Spruce Meadows in the 1970s, which has become world-renowned in the sport and hosts an annual global business conference.

He is survived by his wife Margaret and his daughters Nancy and Linda. Nancy Southern is chair and chief executive officer of Atco and Linda Southern-Heathcott is chair of Akita and CEO of Spruce Meadows. The shares of Akita and Atco are held by the Southern family’s Sentgraf Enterprises Ltd.

In addition to power generation and pipeline transportation, Atco provides a wide range of services to energy companies including workforce housing, natural gas storage and power infrastructure development.

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