Canadian broker/dealer Marleau Lemire Securities is shutting down after failing to reach a deal with another firm to salvage its floundering operations.
The firm was founded in 1989 as one of a handful of publicly traded brokerages in Canada. It has suffered losses in recent years as competitors made in-roads into its bread-and-butter small-business financings, and key managers and producers left the firm.
In recent weeks, the company sought desperately to cut a deal with several leading brokerages in Canada, but ultimately each deal fell through. The last best hope, a buyout with Western Canadian broker Canaccord Capital, fell apart primarily, sources say, when Marleau Lemire was unable to guarantee their remaining key producers would agree to stay.
"No one here is interested in being sold like cattle," said one producer.
According to sources, the brokerage was always more focused on revenues from financing deals than on support for retail. Reps also have been less than happy with frequent management turnovers.
"With all the large dollars that move through a brokerage house, management can sometimes forget that employees are really a firm's only asset," says one broker who left the firm six months ago.
Forty of the firm's employees in the capital markets and fixed-income division were let go in late January. About 90 employees in the retail sales division are being asked to remain for the four to six months that it is expected to take to arrange account transfers.
But one long-time Marleau broker says, "There are no brokers and no clients that are going to stay with a defunct firm for a second longer than it takes to get situated. This place will be boarded up in a matter of weeks."