An Ontario judge has dismissed a contentious lawsuit involving two high-profile Bay Street fund managers.
The fight started in May, 2014, when an analyst at distressed-debt specialist Catalyst Capital Group Inc. quit to join West Face Capital Inc. A few months later, Catalyst, run by Newton Glassman, sued West Face, run by Greg Boland, alleging the new hire breached the terms of a non-compete clause.
Underlying the lawsuit was Catalyst's concern that the analyst, Brandon Moyse, provided its rival with confidential information about its strategy and operations, at a time when both funds had business dealings with Canadian wireless companies Wind Mobile Corp. and Mobilicity.
The suit escalated in early 2015 when Catalyst attempted to prevent West Face from participating in the "management and/or strategic direction of Wind Mobile," as well as an upcoming federal spectrum auction.
West Face had acquired Wind in the fall of 2014 as part of a consortium of investors. The purchase irked Catalyst, which argued that days after its own exclusivity agreement with Wind ended without a deal, West Face and its partners negotiated the purchase of Wind. "West Face could not have negotiated the deal … without access to Catalyst's confidential information, which was provided to it by [analyst Brandon] Moyse," Catalyst argued in court documents.
Mr. Moyse and West Face fought back, saying neither party did anything wrong. However, e-mails cited in court documents show that Mr. Moyse sent some examples of his work to West Face, along with his résumé – even though these memos were marked "confidential" and "for internal discussion purposes only."
The case was later complicated after Mr. Moyse admitted to wiping his BlackBerry before giving it back to Catalyst and to deleting an e-mail sent to West Face containing confidential Catalyst information not involving Wind. He also deleted his Internet browsing history on his personal computer before it was searched.
On Thursday, Justice Frank Newbould dismissed the lawsuit "in its entirety." While acknowledging that the browsing history had been deleted and that the BlackBerry was wiped, there was no evidence that anything pertaining to Wind was ever sent to West Face.
In his decision, the judge also wrote that "there is direct evidence that Mr. Moyse did not impart any information about Catalyst's initiative with Wind to anyone at West Face."
He also noted that even if confidential information had been shared, "I cannot find that it caused Catalyst any detriment or damage."
The judge did not stop there. In the ruling, he expressed disappointment with Catalyst. "I must say that I had considerable difficulty accepting as reliable much of the evidence of Mr. Newton Glassman. He was aggressive, argumentative, refused to make concessions that should have been made and contradicted his own statements made contemporaneously in e-mails."
West Face, meanwhile, was "straightforward" throughout the process. "They were impressive and did not engage in overstatement," the judge wrote.
Mr. Moyse declined to comment. In an e-mail, a spokesperson for Catalyst said: "We are deeply disappointed by the decision. We believe that the judge did not give fair consideration to all of the evidence presented," adding that the fund is "considering all options regarding an appeal."
In a statement, West Face said it is "grateful for the vindication," adding: "The reasons for the complete dismissal of the case make clear that the lawsuit launched by Catalyst was without merit."
Still, the saga continues. Last December, the consortium that bought Wind in 2014 – which includes West Face – sold the wireless company to Shaw Communications for $1.6-billion. This June, Catalyst sued the consortium and some bankers for $750-million, alleging that leaks of confidential data and breach of an exclusivity agreement cost Catalyst a lucrative opportunity to buy the mobile phone company in 2014.
"We are confident that Catalyst's other lawsuits against West Face and various other parties face similar obstacles [as the newly dismissed case]," West Face wrote.