Henri Audet, an electrical engineer who founded the Quebec-based Cogeco cable and media business, has died at age 94.
Audet began what has become Canada’s fourth-largest cable company and one of Quebec’s largest media companies in 1957 with a TV station in Trois-Rivieres, Que.
His son, Louis Audet, now heads the business, which had consolidated revenue of $1.4 billion in fiscal 2012 and 3,500 employees in Ontario and Quebec. Control of Cogeco Inc., Cogeco Cable Inc. and other subsidiaries remain controlled by the Audet family.
Henri Audet began his career as an engineer in 1945 with the CBC. He was a member of a committee in 1949 that studied the development of foreign television in preparation for TV in Canada.
In 1957, he left the CBC for a career in private broadcasting and became president of Television St-Maurice Inc.
By 1976, he was chairman and CEO of Cogeco Inc., positions he held until 1993. It wasn’t until December 2006, that Henri Audet stepped down from his company’s board of directors at the age of 88.
Henri Audet received a numerous honours throughout his career and in 1984 was given the Order of Canada and was inducted into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1993.
In 1980, he was a member of a Canadian delegation that travelled to Japan to study the future of satellite communications.
“In the name of the board of directors of Cogeco Inc. and Cogeco Cable Inc ., as well as in the names of all the employees, I wish to convey our most sincere condolences to the whole Audet family,” said Jan Peeters, president of the boards of Cogeco Inc. and Cogeco Cable Inc. (TSX:CAA)
“Mr. Henri Audet was and remains a great source of inspiration for all the members of the extended Cogeco family.”
Cogeco Inc., through Cogeco Cable Inc., Cogeco Data Services Inc. and Cogeco Diffusion Inc., has become a major Canadian communications company.
Control of Cogeco Inc. (TSX:CGO) and its direct and indirect subsidiaries is held by Gestion Audem Inc., a holding company whose shares are held entirely by the members of the family of Henri Audet.
Cogeco Cable provides its residential customers with TV, Internet and home phone services.
Cogeco Data Services provides such services as data networking, e-business applications, video conferencing and data storage to business customers.
Cogeco Diffusion owns and operates 13 radio stations across most of Quebec and also operates Metromedia, which specializes in advertising in the public transit sector.
In July, Cogeco Cable gave itself a toehold in the U.S. market with a US$1.36-billion deal to buy a regional cable company, the first big acquisition for Canada’s fourth-largest cable TV company since its failed venture into Portugal.
Cogeco Cable Inc. recently reported that its profits weakened in the fourth quarter due to an increase in corporate taxes in Ontario and higher depreciation.
The Montreal-based company said its profits were $45.7 million, or 93 cents a share. That was down from $69 million, or $1.42 a share, a year earlier.
Meanwhile, parent company Cogeco Inc. recorded a profit of $44.9 million, or 83 cents a share, compared with $70.1 million, or $1.39 a share, in the year-ago period.