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ATB Financial, Alberta's government-owned bank, has taken a majority interest in AltaCorp Capital Inc. following the death of its founder, George Gosbee.

ATB now has a controlling stake after AltaCorp purchased Mr. Gosbee's shares in the Calgary-based investment dealer from his estate and cancelled them, said Nancy Peck, AltaCorp's chief financial officer. She declined to give ATB's new ownership percentage, other than to say it is a majority. It previously had a 19.9-per-cent stake in AltaCorp, acquired when the dealer was founded in 2010.

The brokerage, which is heavily focused on the energy sector, has had to navigate a difficult, three-year industry downturn, which has squelched the deal flow and forced some competitors to shut their doors or merge with rivals. Ms. Peck said AltaCorp remains in good financial shape.

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Mr. Gosbee died suddenly in November at 48. The prominent investment banker established AltaCorp after selling his previous venture, Tristone Capital, to Macquarie, the Australian bank, in 2009. He had also been chairman of Alberta Investment Management Corp., the provincial pension manager, as well as a part-owner of the NHL's Arizona Coyotes.

AltaCorp President Paul Sarachman added the title of chief executive officer following Mr. Gosbee's death.

"This ongoing partnership with ATB will allow us to continue to provide support for our clients throughout the province, Canada and internationally, with all aspects of their capital markets needs," Mr. Sarachman said in a statement.

ATB's relationship with AltaCorp has been beneficial as it has allowed the boutique dealer to offer lending services or additional capital in financial arrangements, Ms. Peck said.

However, bankers at some other shops have grumbled over the years that they are forced to compete against an organization that has the backing of the public institution.

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