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Streetwise Phil Evershed makes ‘big change’ with coming Canaccord Genuity exit

The corner of Bay Street and Adelaide streets in the heart of Toronto’s financial district.

Gloria Nieto/The Globe and Mail

Phil Evershed is putting his knowledge of proxy fights and capital markets to work in a new venture aiming to influence Canadian companies.

A long-time banker, Mr. Evershed will now "sit on the other side of the table" as principal at Oxford Park Group, a firm focused on alternative and special situations investments. He will join entrepreneur and investor John Bitove in leading Oxford Park.

Mr. Evershed moves to the new venture from Canaccord Genuity where he is global head of investment banking until the end of March. The company announced plans to shake up its management team as it reported a quarterly loss this week. Toronto-headquartered Oxford Park will look for undervalued and overvalued Canadian companies and "seek to influence the board or management, but in a constructive way," Mr. Evershed said.

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Aggressive activism isn't the objective, but working closely with boards and management is. Oxford seeks opportunities outside of the commodities sector and would consider both equity and debt investments. Oxford plans to influence companies with market capitalizations of up to $1-billion to $2-billion, and below.

The fund already has committed capital provided privately by the principals, but is also reaching out to third party investors at the moment. The actual size of the fund is not being disclosed.

"It's a big change, except that I've spent a lot of my time working in acquisitions on hostile and near-hostile transactions and on proxy battles," Mr. Evershed said. He joined Canaccord Genuity five years ago in 2010 when the former Canaccord Financial Inc. acquired the firm he co-founded: Genuity Capital Markets. He plans stay on as special adviser to the board at Canaccord for some time. Before Genuity, Mr. Evershed built his name at CIBC World Markets, rising to co-head of investment banking and leading M&A activity.

Mr. Evershed and Mr. Bitove have also worked together before – both made ground-floor investments in companies such as Sirius XM Canada Inc. They are now board members for the company.

But Mr. Evershed is counting on what they don't have in common to make Oxford a success. While Mr. Evershed sees himself as the capital markets mind, Mr. Bitove has experience in the consumer, retail, real estate and hospitality arenas. "A lot of the sectors we'd be interested in," he adds.

Oxford is primarily focused on the Canadian market, but the U.S. is also on the firm's radar, since both principals have experience there, Mr. Evershed says. Europe and Asia are trickier to manage from Canada and aren't focal regions.

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