Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc. has tapped Jeff Moody as its new chief executive officer, replacing financial-services veteran Tom MacMillan after little more than a year.
The Toronto-based asset-management company also announced a fat one-time payment to shareholders, as it puts its significant cash hoard to work, not long after turning the page on a high-profile legal dispute with its co-founders.
In a press release on Tuesday, alongside its fiscal fourth-quarter results, the company announced that Mr. MacMillan is stepping down as CEO effective immediately. He was appointed in July, 2016, and replaced Jeremy Freedman, who had served since 2010.
"The CEO change was maybe somewhat unexpected, but probably a logical step in the evolution of the company," said Brian Madden, senior vice-president and portfolio manager with Goodreid Investment Counsel, a Toronto-based firm that owns shares in Gluskin Sheff.
Mr. Moody has been with Gluskin Sheff since 2001 and was previously senior executive vice-president, investments and client wealth management, and chair of the asset mix committee. Before joining Gluskin Sheff, he was a managing partner with Gryphon Investment Counsel, which managed about $2.6-billion in pension and endowment assets.
Mr. MacMillan, by contrast, was chiefly known for his prowess on the asset-servicing side of the business, having served as CEO of CIBC Mellon from 1998 to 2009. He joined Gluskin Sheff as a director in 2014, in the aftermath of its $70-million purchase of Blair Franklin Asset Management, of which he was chair.
In a note to clients, Desjardins Securities analyst Gary Ho said he was not surprised by the appointment of Mr. Moody and noted his "greater involvement and interactions with investors recently."
"We are very grateful to Tom for his leadership and professionalism during his tenure as CEO, and in particular his efforts in achieving a successful outcome in the dispute with our co-founders," Nancy Lockhart, lead director, said in the release.
In July, an arbitrator ruled that Gluskin Sheff, which manages money for high-net-worth individuals and institutions, owed its retired co-founders Ira Gluskin and Gerald Sheff $13.8-million in connection with compensation and retirement agreements – a significantly lower payout than some had expected. The founders had been seeking $185-million in total, and Gluskin Sheff had set aside a cash hoard of roughly $74-million to prepare for a negative outcome. The spat between the parties lasted about 16 months and had weighed on the company's share price.
In the aftermath of the arbitration settlement, analysts predicted the company would declare a special dividend in light of its cash reserves, and on Tuesday Gluskin Sheff announced it would indeed pay 85 cents a share to shareholders on a one-time basis, alongside its regular quarterly payout of 25 cents a share.
Mr. Madden says the settlement of the recent legal dispute has "opened the floodgates" for new business to come in. The company said its assets under management were $8.9-billion as of June 30.
Shares in Gluskin Sheff closed Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange at $17.99 a share, up 8 cents.
Founded in 1984, the company went public in 2006, and reached its stock market peak in 2014, with the shares trading above $32 a share.
With a file from Andrew Willis and Jacqueline Nelson