Watsa, born in 1950 in Hyderabad, India, and trained as a chemical engineer, has a public profile that has at times bordered on the reclusive since he took over Fairfax in 1985. For his first 15 years at the company, he barely spoke to a reporter, and he only started holding investor conference calls in 2001.
Fairfax has generally not been known as an activist investor, but Watsa has not shied away from a fight, launching a $6 billion lawsuit against a group of hedge funds in 2006, accusing them of conspiring to the drive the company's shares down so they could be shorted.
A short position enables an investor to profit when a stock drops.
To be sure, not all Watsa's moves have been golden. Fairfax had to write off most of its investment in Winnipeg-based media company Canwest in 2009 as the company filed for bankruptcy protection. It also wrote down a significant investment in publisher Torstar in 2008-09. Speaking last year, Watsa suggested investors looking for a short-term rebound in BlackBerry might be disappointed.
"Is it going to turn around in three months, six months, nine months? No," he told reporters. "But if you're looking four, five years ... We make investments over four or five years." Read more at: IBN Live
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