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Sceptre CEO passes away Add to ...

Glenn Inamoto, who took over as chief executive officer of Sceptre Investment Counsel Ltd. just over eight months ago, has died suddenly.

"We are shocked and saddened at the sudden loss of our great friend and colleague," Sceptre chief financial officer David Morris said in a statement yesterday.

The company did not indicate the cause or date of death, but said it expects to make an announcement "in due course" with regard to an interim CEO. The company did not return calls.

Mr. Inamoto joined the Toronto-based investment firm in 1999 as a Canadian equity manager, and was promoted to chief investment officer before taking on the additional role of CEO last October.

Before he joined Sceptre, he was a portfolio manager at Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) and at former Toronto-based mutual fund company, O'Donnell Investment Management Corp. He graduated from the University of Toronto in 1980 and later earned an MBA from Dalhousie University.

Mr. Inamoto's death is unsettling for Sceptre, which has experienced its share of turmoil. He succeeded former CEO Richard Knowles, whose abrupt departure raised speculation that the money manager might be a takeover candidate, as assets had been declining. Mr. Knowles had been at the head of Sceptre since 2000.

The company, whose assets have fallen to $7.6-billion from $9.5-billion last September, suffered damage to its reputation in 1998 after it invested in YBM Magnex International Inc., which turned out to be a stock market fraud. Two years ago, Sceptre's turnaround story stumbled after star manager Alan Jacobs left to join Sprott Asset Management Inc.

William Aldridge, assistant portfolio manager at Mackenzie Financial Corp. and who holds Sceptre shares in the Mackenzie Saxon Microcap Fund, described Mr. Inamoto's death as "real shock."

"It's a bit of concern," Mr. Aldridge said. "It's a small company, but I still think there is enough depth from the management perspective ... I was impressed with Glenn - he was doing a fine job."

Thinly traded shares of Sceptre last closed at $5 a share, down from a 52-high of $9.24 a share last September.

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