F. Ross Johnson

F. Ross Johnson

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F. Ross Johnson

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Frederick Ross Johnson, OC (born 1931) is a Canadian businessman.


Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, into a lower-middle-class family, he used a military cadet scholarship program to attend the University of Manitoba where he graduated in 1952 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree and was a member of the fraternity Phi Delta Theta. He went on to earn an M.B.A. degree from the University of Toronto in 1956. He first worked as an accountant for Canadian General Electric in Montreal and as a vice-president of merchandising for the T. Eaton Company before being named president of Standard Brands Ltd. Johnson negotiated a merger between Standard Brands and Nabisco with Nabisco CEO Bob Schaeberle in 1985. Soon Schaeberle left Nabisco and Johnson took the helm replacing many of the "Old Guard" Nabisco executives with loyal ones from Standard Brands. After growing restless, he went into talks that led to the Nabisco-RJ Reynolds merger in 1986. He was soon appointed as President and CEO of RJR Nabisco. Johnson appeared on the December 5, 1988 cover of Time Magazine. After dismal stock performance following the 1987 Stock Market Crash, Johnson decided to put the company in play. Originally, he planned to execute a management led leveraged buyout with Shearson Lehman Hutton. Events quickly escalated into a takeover contest.

Following the RJR Nabisco takeover by the Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. led by Henry Kravis, Johnson started his own private investment...
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