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Sep 15, 2020

Former GMP Capital CEO tries to stop firm's deal with Richardson

A "Bay Street" sign is displayed in the financial district of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. Canadian stocks declined with global markets, as authorities struggled to keep the coronavirus from spreading more widely outside China. However, investors flocking to safe havens such as gold offset the sell-off in Canada's stock market.

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GMP Capital Inc.’s former chief executive officer filed documents to block the company’s deal for full control of wealth manager Richardson GMP and proposed a new slate of directors.

Kevin Sullivan, who was GMP’s CEO for more than a decade until 2010, is trying to convince shareholders in the Toronto-based financial firm to vote against a transaction to buy all of the shares of Richardson GMP it doesn’t already own from Richardson Financial Group Ltd.. The proposed deal would value the wealth firm at $420 million (US$319 million).

While the concept of the transaction is a good one, “the terms negotiated by GMP’s existing board are not,” said Sullivan in a regulatory filing Tuesday ahead of the the firm’s Oct. 6 shareholders meeting.

The deal, under which GMP Capital would issue 1.875 shares for every share of Richardson GMP, gives effective control of GMP to the Richardson family, which would see its ownership stake rise to 40.1 per cent from 24.1 per cent, Sullivan said in a letter.

‘No Control Premium’

“The Richardson family is paying no control premium -- in fact it seeks a control discount from the independent GMP shareholders -- for that significant benefit,” Sullivan said. He is proposing changes to the deal that would return more capital to existing GMP investors and governance agreement to protect minority shareholders. Sullivan owned about 4 per cent.

A representative from GMP didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

Sullivan is also proposing five independent directors for the GMP board, including BC Partners credit head Ted Goldthorpe and David Goodman, former head of global asset management at Bank of Nova Scotia.

“GMP’s board portrays me as trying to ‘disrupt’ the RGMP transaction. The opposite is true, as anyone who looks at my record will know. I have a record of creating value, not disruption,” Sullivan said.