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Jordan Bitove takes full ownership of Torstar after rift

Toronto Star publisher Jordan Bitove has taken sole control of the newspaper's parent company effective Thursday as part of an arbitration deal with co-owner Paul Rivett, according to Torstar Corp.
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The Toronto Star building is shown in Toronto on June 8, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Eduardo Lima

Toronto Star publisher Jordan Bitove has taken sole control of the newspaper's parent company effective Thursday as part of an arbitration deal with co-owner Paul Rivett, according to Torstar Corp., bringing to a close a tense dispute between the former partners.

Bitove said in a press release Thursday evening that the two went into their partnership with the best of intentions, but they were ultimately unable to resolve the areas of disagreement that surfaced. 

Rivett congratulated Bitove for "choosing to own the Star and Metroland," and thanked the arbitrator for what he said was a fair and quick process. 

Torstar Corp. also owns the Metroland newspaper group and local newspapers including the Hamilton Spectator.

The settlement comes two months after Rivett filed an application to the Ontario Superior Court seeking a court order to dissolve NordStar Capital Inc., which purchased Torstar in 2020 for $60 million.

In the court application, Rivett cited "irreparable" damage to his relationship with Bitove and said the pair could no longer work together.

After the application became public, the pair agreed to move their legal dispute to mediation-arbitration.

Rivett claimed Bitove changed his mind about previously agreed-upon plans, failed to provide a budget for the Toronto Star, ignored proper corporate governance and disregarded his responsibilities.

Rivett also asked the court to appoint PricewaterhouseCoopers to manage an asset sale to resolve the "impasse" between the two men.

In a September statement responding to Rivett's claims, Bitove said he had worked to make the company resilient, more accountable and more competitive.

"I’ve done this to ensure that the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper, can continue to deliver the news, opinion and stories our diverse audiences seek and the investigative journalism our democracy depends upon – while upholding The Star’s incredible legacy and building a brighter, stronger future," he said.

Bitove said he was focused on building a product centred on the trusted journalism that readers demand, while using that demand to build a sustainable business.

"The preferred playbook of some investors is to cut costs to the bone, strip the product bare, and shrink newsrooms to extract short-term benefit for shareholders."

The two men were equal partners in NordStar, which also owns online news site iPolitics and sportsbook NorthStar Gaming Inc. 

Before teaming up with Bitove, who was part of the ownership consortium that built the SkyDome, now the Rogers Centre, Rivett was previously president at Fairfax Financial.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2022.

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Torstar holds an investment in The Canadian Press as part of a joint agreement with subsidiaries of the Globe and Mail and Montreal's La Presse.

The Canadian Press

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