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Wek's back: former GMP trader to join Galileo Add to ...

Galileo Equity Partners, a small Toronto fund management firm, got a big infusion of star power by adding four new partners, including former GMP Securities head trader Michael Wekerle.

Mr. Wekerle, former Salida Capital head trader Stephen Craig, former CTVGlobemedia executive Paul Sparkes and veteran financial services executive Joseph MacDonald are all buying into the 12-year-old firm as partners.

Mr. Wekerle's time away from the Street was not very long. His official departure from GMP was in August, though he had given up the job as head of trading a few months before that. He has long had an interest in running money, and at Galileo he will get that chance.

"I spent a lot of time deliberating what my return entrance was going to be," Mr. Wekerle said on a conference call. "Our objective is to grow the business, to grow the Galileo brand."

Galileo was founded by Michael Waring, a money manager, in 2000. Control passed to merchant bank Northland Bancorp for a time, but Mr. Waring reacquired majority ownership of the firm last year.

The firm has about $370-million of assets under management, and the goal is to push that closer to $600-millon, Mr. Waring said. The company manages both institutional money and mutual funds.

"What this really does is give us a lot of bench strength and a lot of experience," Mr. Waring said. "It moves us forward in a quantum leap."

The partners are looking at a group of funds that would include a performance equity fund, a hedge fund that involves shorting stocks and even potentially a product that focuses on media to take advantage of Mr. Sparkes' background.

"We want to focus on where we have edge," said Mr. Wekerle.

Pending regulatory approval, the company could start to offer new products in 90 days if not sooner.

"All of us are different yet similar," Mr. Wekerle said. That differentiation "will make Galileo a superior fund."

Mr. Craig and Mr. Wekerle will be traders. Mr. Macdonald is now chief operating officer. Mr. Sparkes will work on how the company provides its products, the partners said on the conference call, and once his non-compete agreement expires on April 1, that will open the door to possibilities in the media field.

Mr. Wekerle said that he has a non-compete agreement with GMP on the securities side of the business, but he has an exemption for investment management and advisory roles. Mr. Wekerle joined GMP in 1995, just months after the company launched.

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