Calgary-based Black Spruce Merchant Capital Corp. has opened an office in Edmonton to provide investment banking to oil services and industrial companies, a move that comes as that part of the energy sector is under growing financial pressure.
It's a counter-cyclical move as crude prices remain depressed, acknowledges Sonny Mottahed, the firm's chief executive. However, that part of the business, which is largely based in northern Alberta, is not well served for finance and advisory services, spelling potential opportunity.
"We started Black Spruce in 2012 when the junior oil market was at an absolute bottom and the risk-off trade was being enforced," Mr. Mottahed said. "We have a view that you can forge stronger and deeper relationships in periods like this, and help people navigate the storm a little bit and be better positioned once we come out of it at some point."
Chris Suvan, who has a business development and project management background, is running the firm's new Edmonton office. Mr. Mottahed and Jeff Barber, who had worked at Raymond James, founded Black Spruce, which concentrates on financial advisory and merger and acquisition services for smaller energy producers.
Business has slowed down, as the energy sector has gone from boom to bust in half a year, he said. However, he sees the West Texas Intermediate crude oil benchmark rebounding to the $60-$80 (U.S.) per barrel range in a "V-shaped recovery."
"We can't do many transactions in a highly volatile period, but in a low-price environment or a high-price environment, people still have to do things, often for different reasons, and often different groups," Mr. Mottahed said. "But there are still deals to be done," he said.