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Birthdate: (85)
Birthplace: Budapest, Budapest, Budapest, Hungary
Occupation: CEO of Barrick Gold
Managed by: Kevin Hanit
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Peter Munk

Peter Munk, CC (born November 8, 1927) is a Canadian businessman and philanthropist. He is the chairman and founder of the mining company Barrick Gold, the world's largest gold-mining corporation.

Early years

Munk was born in Budapest, Hungary into a well-off Jewish family, the son of Katherine (Adler) and Louis L. Munk. Hungary was invaded by Nazi Germany in March 1944 when Munk was a teenager. His family escaped the Nazis on the Kastner train, a train carrying 1,684 Jews to safety in Switzerland, arranged by Rudolf Kastner of the Zionist Aid and Rescue Committee as a result of negotiations with senior SS officer Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann allowed some Jews to leave for Switzerland in exchange for money, gold, and diamonds, that was obtained from the wealthy among them as part of a series of so-called "blood for goods" deals.

Munk graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in electrical engineering in 1952.

Career

In 1958, he founded Clairtone with business partner David Gilmour and backed by Frank Sobey. This company manufactured high-end console stereos and later televisions, which were recognizable icons of their day. The most famous Clairtone designs were the "Project G" series which was seen in the film The Graduate. In a clear case of insider trading, Munk and Gilmour quietly dumped 29,000 shares of Clairtone stock in 1967, just before the company's failing financial condition became known, leaving investors and the public to pay the bill for their mismanagement.

Later, he founded and was Chairman and CEO of Southern Pacific Hotel Corporation, the largest hotel and restaurant chain in Australasia in the 1970s. Munk is now Chairman and founder of Barrick Gold, the world's largest gold mining corporation. Munk was founder, Chairman and CEO of Trizec Properties (one of the largest U.S. REITs – listed on the NYSE), where in 2006 Trizec was sold to Brookfield Properties.

He is a distinguished lecturer at James Gillies Alumni Lecture, York University, Toronto. Munk has also been a member of various boards including:

  • Trustee of the Toronto Hospital.
  • Chairman of the University of Toronto Crown Foundation.
  • Member of the World Gold Council.

Charitable contributions

In 1992, the Peter Munk Charitable Foundation was founded and has since disbursed approximately $100 million to a variety of organizations that work to improve the health, learning and international reputation of Canadians.

On May 30, 2006, Munk announced that he would donate $37m to Toronto General Hospital, the largest gift ever made to a Canadian medical institution. The donation would help to support the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, which Munk helped create with a $6m donation to the hospital in 1997. He is also a major donor to the University of Toronto, to which he has donated $50.9 million to establish the Munk School of Global Affairs. The foundation also created the Munk Debates. The latest contract between the Munk Foundation and the University of Toronto has come under intense criticism due to the secrecy that shrouded its approval, and the fact that Munk's contribution of $35 million were conditional on $25 million contributions each by the federal government and the University. Coming at a time of intense downsizing and threats to the funding of other academic units, critics charge that these decisions are emblematic of the government's and the University's ceding of academic resource allocation decisions to the corporate sector.

According to Linda McQuaig's book, The Trouble with Billionaires, Munk’s latest donation to the University of Toronto came with strings attached to ensure that the school would "fit with the political views and sensitivities of Peter Munk." McQuaig writes that "according to Munk's written agreement with the university, the Munk donations will be paid over an extended time period, with much of the money to be paid years from now — and subject to the Munk family's approval of the school. For that matter, the school's director will be required to report annually to a board appointed by Munk 'to discuss the programs, activities and initiatives of the School in greater detail.'" University president David Naylor rejected personal attacks on donors as "a deplorable affront to the values of rational and respectful discourse that are supposed to characterize a university" and stated "I later served on the board of the University Health Network, in the years when Dr. Munk made two gifts exceeding $40 million to support the cardiovascular program at that hospital. There was not a single instance where Peter Munk interfered with the educational, research or clinical priorities of the institution."

Personal life

In 1956, Munk married Linda Joy (Gutterson), an endowed-in Professor of English & author at the University of Toronto. The couple divorced in 1970. They had three children. In 1973, Munk married his current wife, Melanie Jane Bosanquet, with whom he had two more children. His children are Anthony, a director of Onex Corporation and his father's company Barrick Gold; Nina Munk, a New York-based freelance writer and author of a book on her father's failed business Claritone; Natalie; Cheyne, now principle of her sister Nina's UrbanHound.com site; and Marc-David, a doctor and healthcare executive.

Community service

Munk is an honorary board member of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) - Toronto. JNF is an agency mandated by the state of Israel to manage the lands of historic Palestine for the benefit of Jews worldwide.

Honours

He has received several honorary degrees:

  • Doctorate from Upsala College, New Jersey.
  • Doctorate from Bishop's University, Quebec.
  • Doctorate from Concordia University, Montreal.
  • Doctorate from Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel
  • Doctor of Laws from Trinity College, University of Toronto in 1995
  • Doctor of Sacred Letters from Trinity College, University of Toronto in 2004, jointly with his wife Melanie Munk

He became Officer of The Order of Canada (Canada's highest civilian honour) in 1993 and was promoted to Companion in 2008; received The Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship in 2002 (the first time awarded outside the U.S.); has been inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame.

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Peter Munk's Timeline

1927
November 8, 1927
Budapest, Budapest, Budapest, Hungary
1956
1956
Age 28
1970
1970
Age 42
1973
1973
Age 45