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Ron Southern dies; Canadian energy entrepreneur was 85

ATCO Co. Chairman Ron Southern, left, talks with

ATCO Co. Chairman Ron Southern, left, talks with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato, prior to a speech by De Rato at the 2006 Spruce Meadows Roundtable forum in Calgary, Canada, Sept. 8, 2006. Photo Credit: BLOOMBERG NEWS / Dave Olecko

Ron Southern, the Canadian energy entrepreneur who founded Atco Ltd., has died. He was 85.

His death on Thursday was announced by Atco and another company he controlled, Akita Drilling Ltd., in online statements. Spruce Meadows, the Southern family’s horse show jumping facility south of Calgary, also posted an online tribute.

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.

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