Shakeup at PI Financial: CEO Max Meier eyes growth, plus upside in mining, LNG and marijuana

Peter Kennedy Peter Kennedy, Stockhouse
3 Comments| June 26, 2014


One of Canada’s leading investment dealers PI Financial Corp., has unveiled the next phase of a management shakeup as it moves to position itself for a recovery in the mining industry, plus any developments in British Columbia’s burgeoning liquefied natural gas sector.

Two weeks ago, the 25%-owned National Bank of Canada (TSX: T.NAStock Forum) affiliate announced that Executive vice-president Bert Quattrociocchi is stepping down as head of the company’s capital markets division.

PI has followed that up today by announcing that his responsibilities will be split between three department heads. They are as follow:
  • Jim Danis, Managing Director, and Head of Institutional Sales and Trading;
  • Sheila Broughton, Managing Director, Head of Research;
  • Rick Vernon, Managing Director, Head of Investment Banking.

The capital markets shuffle is something of a departure for PI as Vernon will lead the company’s investment banking operations from Toronto.

Throughout the company’s 32 year history, investment banking at PI has always been run from the Vancouver head office, where over half of the company’s 240 employees are located.

The trio of new appointees will report to directly to PI President and Chief Operating Officer Jean-Paul Bachellerie, who in turn reports to Meier, the brokerage’s Chairman, CEO and co-founder.

During an interview in his office on Thursday, Meier said Vernon’s extensive background in mine financing fits well with the company’s strategy, as he will lead a group of three Toronto-based mining analysts.

“We think that this will pay off as mining stocks recover,” he said.

“As inflation picks up, maybe in about another half year or a year gold will strengthen and we think so will mining stocks.’’

Aside from mining, the company is also bullish on the outlook for companies that can provide equipment and services as liquefied natural gas projects materialize in British Columbia, where major energy companies hope to deliver natural gas to markets in Asia.

During a two-day conference in Fort St. John, B.C., PI invited executives from companies involved in pipeline construction and oil and gas related services to make presentations to a group of institutional investors who were flown in by PI from eastern Canada.

The companies presenting were PetroWest Corp. (TSX: T.PRWStock Forum), ENTREC Corp. (TSX: V.ENTStock Forum), Macro Enterprises Inc. (TSX: V.MCRStock Forum), and Enterprise Group Inc. (TSX: T.E, Stock Forum). These are  companies that are covered by PI analyst Jason Zandberg.

“We want to be at the forefront of any developments, said Meier, who thinks that up to three LNG plants could be built in B.C.

Meanwhile, the 67-year-old former Swiss banker said he has a preference for dividend-paying Canadian blue chip stocks that allow him to sleep at night.

That would include names like  Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX: T.SUStock Forum), Tourmaline Oil Corp. (TSX: T.TOUStock Forum), Whitecap Resources Inc. (TSX: T.WCPStock Forum), Canelson Drilling Inc. (TSX: T.CDIStock Forum) and Loblaw Companies Ltd. (TSX: T.LStock Forum).

However, Meier said he recently participated in a private placement that raised $1.3 million for Infinity Minerals Corp. (CNQ: C.IFNStock Forum), which said it has signed a non-binding letter of intent to acquire 100% of the outstanding shares of private medical marijuana services company that is based in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley.

On Thursday, Infinity shares jumped 7.5% to 43 cents, leaving a market cap of $5.9 million, based on 13.7 million shares outstanding. The 52-week range is 45 cents and 20 cents.

Meier says he tends to be wary of investing in marijuana stocks. He advises would-be investors to take a close look at the track record of the people involved. That’s partly because so many failed mining companies have been moving into the sector in recent months.

As for his success in the brokerage sector, he attributes that to the ability of himself and his team to grow PI Financial from small beginnings in 1982 when the company only had $250,000 in capital. He said growth is essential because of the high cost of running brokerage firms these days, with major costs  including compliance, salaries and technology.

Still, Meier said he has no thoughts of retiring. “I personally love what I do,’’ he said. For the time being, he will hang on to the Chairman and CEO roles. But eventually, he said, he will hand those responsibilities over to someone else and focus on his clients.

“I see myself working as an investment adviser for many years to come.” 


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4SeasVentures
Infrastructure (aggregates) stock, HBK..HighbaNK RESOURCES IS MOBILIZING today TO BEGIN SITE UP FOLLOWED BY production. aggs for LNG and other projects in Rupert/ Kitimat area will be supplied from their swamp point pit!
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June 26, 2014
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gamethrones
t.BAR
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June 26, 2014
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BaystreetBenny
Watch RPX Just Raised $3M @ $0.055 a few weeks ago....Traded Million @ $0.015..Crazy ! Drills programs Underway....Drills Turning on Massive VMS property Near KIDD Mine Area Near Timmins ONT
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