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Independent investment dealer Echelon Wealth Partners Inc. has prepped for a rebound in oil and gas stocks by hiring veteran energy banker Simon Akit as its new head of institutional equity sales and trading.

Mr. Akit joined Toronto-based Echelon Tuesday, arriving at a time when energy stocks are in a slump due to the pandemic and an oil price war. But the sector is beginning to see a surge in mergers and acquisitions as stronger oil and gas companies bid for weaker rivals.

Karanjit Bhugra, co-head of the company’s investment banking division, said: “With his deep relationships with global institutional accounts and corporate issuers, Simon will play an instrumental role in the continued growth of Echelon Capital Markets.”

Mr. Akit spent the past two decades covering oil and gas stocks, including as global head of energy sales during a 12-year stint at Canaccord Genuity Group Inc. He also worked for Bank of Montreal’s capital markets group in New York and at Raymond James Ltd. and UBS Securities Canada Inc. Prior to going into finance, he spent five years as an engineer at Encana Corp., now known as Ovinitiv Inc.

In a news release, Mr. Akit said: “I am excited to join a platform that champions sector expertise with true entrepreneurial spirit.”

Echelon also recently added mining stock sales specialist Robert Lee – a veteran of RBC Dominion Securities Inc. – and mining banker Jason Yeung, who was at GMP Capital Inc. The firm is building expertise in companies that traditionally fly under the radar of Canada’s bank-owned dealers. Echelon is also active in trading and raising money for cannabis companies.

Investment banks that focus on small to mid-sized companies, including Echelon and Canaccord Genuity, have seen a surge in revenues in recent months, as stock trading and corporate finance activity picked up. Echelon is employee-owned and does not release financial results. However, Canaccord Genuity recently announced record quarterly revenues of $377.7-million and a $25.1-million profit for the three months ended June 30.

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