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Dundee Corp. holds assets from mining and energy to real estate. Several companies have reportedly kicked the tires on Dundee Goodman, the corporation's retail brokerage.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

A number of companies have taken a look at Dundee Corp.'s retail brokerage arm, Dundee Goodman Private Wealth, according to multiple sources.

According to the buzz on Bay Street, at least three companies have recently kicked the tires at Dundee Goodman, the sources said. No deal is seen as imminent.

"Indeed Dundee Goodman Private Wealth is a scarce and valuable division, both within and outside of Dundee Corp. Given this, it is not surprising that from time to time we get approached by interested parties who recognize the benefits of increased scale and adding a significant number of experienced advisers," said Richard McIntyre, head of wealth management with Dundee Corp., in an e-mail.

"The Dundee Goodman Private Wealth business has not been 'shopped' to other firms," he added.

Companies rumoured to have shown interest include Industrial Alliance Securities Inc., Mackie Research Capital Corp. and Raymond James Ltd. There is no indication that any formal talks have been held.

Mackie Research said it is not currently in talks with Dundee. Industrial Alliance and Raymond James declined to comment.

"If they [Industrial Alliance, Mackie and Raymond James] have been looking at us it is news to me," added Mr. McIntyre "It's easy to see how a firm like ours may get mentioned in speculation, as there are not many firms left of meaningful size."

Dundee Goodman has a team of roughly 100 Canadian investment advisers who oversee about $4.3-billion in assets. The retail brokerage is a division of Dundee Securities Ltd., which is wholly owned by Toronto holding company Dundee Corp.

The pace of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the retail brokerage sector has accelerated of late – mostly bigger shops acquiring smaller firms that have struggled in the face of higher costs and increased competition from the bigger independents and the brokerage arms of the big banks.

Like all mid-sized players, Dundee has struggled at times to keep its top performers. In August, four Dundee brokers with a combined book of business in excess of $1-billion jumped ship to industry heavyweight RBC Dominion Securities Inc. The unit booked a loss of $4.3-million in the quarter that ended on Sept. 30.

If a sale of Dundee Goodman is consummated, the unit would be expected to sell for between 1 and 3 per cent of assets. Dundee Corp. has had a difficult year and would welcome a cash infusion. The holding company is knee-deep in unprofitable resource investments in the midst of a punishing bear market. Dundee Corp. has lost more than $400-million this year.