Toronto’s Gryphon Advisors Inc., one of Canada’s largest proxy-advisory firms, has been acquired by U.S.-based Morrow Sodali.
Gryphon will operate under the Morrow Sodali name as of Jan. 1, the companies said in a news release on Monday. Morrow Sodali also said in the release that it has struck a strategic partnership with Toronto’s Global Governance Advisors (GGA), an executive compensation and governance advisory company. None of the companies disclosed financial terms of the arrangements.
The two pairings give Morrow Sodali a toehold to climb into the Canadian market. Morrow Sodali employs about 200 consultants at headquarters in New York and London, and in other offices, serving more than 700 clients in more than 80 countries. Its London subsidiary, Nestor Advisors, focuses on corporate governance, organizational design and environmental, social and governance (ESG) consulting.
Proxy advisers such as Gryphon, Kingsdale Advisors and the Laurel Hill Advisory Group represent companies or shareholders in both routine and extraordinary shareholder voting and governance matters, from the annual issuance of a proxy circular for director elections to battles for control of a company.
Chief executive officer Dexter John, a veteran of proxy contests, co-founded Gryphon and its sister company, FrontLine Advisors Inc., in 2019 after leaving rival firm D.F. King Canada. FrontLine’s employees will also join Morrow Sodali, he said.
Bloomberg ranked Gryphon as the top adviser in Canada for activist shareholders on its 2020 global activism adviser rankings. Its clients have included Stuart Olson Inc., Summit Industrial Income REIT and Argonaut Gold . It also represented Sandpiper Group in its 2020 contest against Artis REIT and Canadian National Railway Co. in its fight with TCI Fund Management Ltd.
Both Mr. John and Paul Gryglewicz, senior partner and head of Canada at GGA, said Morrow Sodali offers clients of Gryphon and GGA access to its global expertise. Mr. John said in an interview that Morrow Sodali has offices on every continent except Africa.
“The world is getting very small and with shareholder requirements, ESG growing, more international proxy fights – for example, TCI and Canadian National Railway – it highlights the fact that advisory services are not regional any longer, they’re global,” Mr. John said. “Being able to partner up and be part of the Morrow Sodali brand allows us now to have that global reach, as opposed to regional reach, with our competitors.”
Mr. Gryglewicz said in an interview the strategic partnership will involve Morrow Sodali including GGA’s services as part of a suite of offerings. With GGA’s strengths in compensation consulting, it is involved in board-level decisions well before a proxy statement is drafted and published, he notes. Having GGA on board can make the proxy-advisory process go more smoothly, he said.
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