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Pumpjacks draw oil out of the ground near Olds, Alta. on July 16, 2020.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

Echelon Wealth Partners Inc. is expanding its investment banking business to Western Canada even as many other dealers are undergoing cuts in the region as a result of the energy-industry downturn.

A new Calgary office – Echelon’s first capital markets operation west of Toronto – will serve oil and gas clients, but also concentrate on sectors such as power generation, renewable energy and clean tech.

Echelon has hired investment banker Ryan Mooney as its new managing director to lead the effort. His territory will also include Vancouver and Edmonton. Mr. Mooney is an energy specialist who was previously at Cormark Securities and the former Dundee Capital Markets.

“Echelon is a growing firm, and we are trying to add sector coverage and add product coverage materially right now, so if we can make a play in energy, if we can make a play in hydrogen or geothermal, all of it’s great as long as we make it opportunistically,” said Karanjit Bhugra, Echelon’s co-head of capital markets.

“We’re looking to double our business in a couple years, and hiring people like Ryan is going to be instrumental to doing that.”

In September, the dealer brought on another oil and gas veteran, Simon Akit, as head of institutional sales and trading in its Toronto office. Mr. Akit had been global head of energy sales at Canaccord Genuity Group Inc., where he worked for 12 years.

The Alberta-based energy sector remains under intense pressure owing to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which exacerbated a half-decade downturn that followed a drop in crude oil prices. That has prompted cuts at several investment banks with operations in Calgary.

The most recent staff reductions were at Stifel Canada, which last week laid off five people in its Calgary office, including veteran investment banking and research professionals.

Mr. Bhugra pointed out that Echelon is not looking to add a full complement of staff to the new Calgary office, but will support Mr. Mooney with its resources in Toronto.

Analysts and bankers expect mergers and acquisitions to pick up in the coming months as many small and mid-size oil producers struggle with sharp reductions in cash flow and heavy debt. But Mr. Bhugra said Echelon sees value in expanding the scope of the franchise to encompass other energy sources expected to play major roles in the shift to a greener economy.

Although late to the transition, the Alberta government has recently established financial incentives for diversifying its fossil-fuel denominated economy into other related energy sources, such as hydrogen and geothermal.

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