A game of musical chairs is being played out at Mavrix Fund Management.
Malvin (Mal) Spooner has left the small fund company he co-founded a decade ago, but the departure was announced in a low-key way through a press release that came out on Sunday. (Does someone think that no one will read it on the weekend?)
The departure of the chief executive officer, who is also well known on Bay Street for raising money for charity through rock-and-roll events, comes as little surprise given that GrowthWorks Ltd. bought publicly traded Mavrix last year.
Retail venture capital player GrowthWorks and Seamark Asset Management Inc. then merged last fall, and became publicly listed as Matrix Asset Management Inc. in January. "We are looking to streamline a variety of functions given the bringing together of the companies," David Levi, president and chief executive of Matrix, said in a statement.
Mr. Levi has taken over Mr. Spooner's role at the Mavrix arm. And Mavrix co-founder Mario Arra, who was senior vice-president in charge of national sales, has also left.
"The timing of these changes coincide with the fact that Mavrix has itself ceased to be a public company, and its new top parent company, Matrix Asset Management, has been listed and established its own comprehensive governance and oversight structure," the release said.
While it looks like Matrix wants to be more transparent, it fell down on the job by not announcing the April 30 departure of manager Paul MacDonald who ran Mavrix Explorer. The hot natural resource fund gained a stunning 198 per cent last year.
Obviously, it's not good for business to say that the guy who ran the firm's best performing fund last year and received a Lipper Award for it has left the firm. "Paul left on his own accord to purse new opportunities," David Balsdon, chief compliance officer and secretary-treasurer for the Mavrix funds, said Monday in an interview.
Oddly, Mr. Spooner is listed on Globe Investor as the lead manager for Mavrix Explorer, and was only around for a week. Now, Ray Steele, another Mavrix manager, is the interim fill-in until someone is appointed.
As for Mr. Spooner's Mavrix Canadian Growth, that fund is now back in the hands of Mavrix manager Roger Dent. Mr. Spooner took over the fund in March, 2009, from Mr. Dent. And Mr. Dent took it over in 2005 from Mr. Spooner who ran it from inception in 1996.
Mr. Spooner, as many folks on Bay Street know, doesn't fit the mould of a conventional fund company executive. He can be surprisingly frank. In December, he said he was no advocate of buy and hold. "Put money into a fund that is performing poorly," he advised. "When it has made you some good money, move along." See fund cruncher.
What about the long term? "All bunk," he said. "If you take your money out, then the firm loses revenue [management fees]Buy and hold makes sense from a business perspective."