High-profile Bay Street personality Jim Doak was found dead in a hotel room in Mongolia on Thursday.
Mr. Doak, 59, had been in the country in his role as chairman of Khan Resources Inc., a small uranium exploration and development company. "It's very tragic and shocking news," said Greg Boland, a long-time friend and founder of West Face Capital.
Khan had been engaged in a prolonged legal battle with the Mongolian government over a uranium project. Last month, an international arbitration panel ruled that the government should compensate the company for cancelling uranium licenses in 2009 and expropriating property where Khan had planned to develop a mine. The company said the compensation award, plus interest, totalled $103.8-million (U.S.) as of the end of March.
Company officials, including Mr. Doak, held talks this week with government representatives in Ulan Bator. During those talks, the company demanded full payment of the award and vowed to take enforcement action.
Before he left for Mongolia last week, Mr. Doak talked with enthusiasm about Khan's arbitration win.
"This case will send a message to foreign governments that they can't take what isn't rightfully theirs." he said at the time.
Mr. Doak, who has been a Khan director since 2005, started his career as a research analyst on Bay Street in the late 1970s and made his mark as an irreverent critic of Canada's clubby business elite. He did not shy away from questioning chief executive officers or regulators when he believed they had failed to protect investors. "I had the utmost respect for him. He was one of the brightest people in the industry. He had a photographic memory. He was at the cutting edge," said Michael Sprung, president of Sprung Investment Management Inc. "He was always one of the people that really fought for shareholders and for fairness in the capital markets."
Frustrated with the constraints financial analysts faced when questioning a publicly traded company's performance, Mr. Doak decided to get out of analysis and into the business of managing money. He was president of Enterprise Capital Management Inc., a Toronto-based investment firm, from 1997 to 2002. He served as president of Megantic Asset Management Inc. from 2002 until 2014. Recently, he co-founded a new fund company, Sui Generis Investment Partners LP.
Mr. Doak was also a fixture on Business News Network (BNN), where he was famous for skewering poorly managed companies and the herd mentality of investors. "Jim was one of the sharpest minds on Bay Street, but perhaps more importantly, always spoke that mind," said BNN's general manager, Grant Ellis. " Our viewers always knew that what they were getting was 100 per cent his views. Unfortunately, on Bay Street, where most opinions have been washed 1000 times, originals like Jim are few and far between."
Company officials were unavailable for comment.