Difference Capital Shares Rise as Wekerle Steps Down

Difference Capital Financial Inc., the Canadian investment firm that funds startup companies, rallied after Chief Executive Officer Michael Wekerle stepped down.

Henry Kneis, formerly chief financial officer at the company, replaces Wekerle, who becomes chairman, the Toronto-based firm announced after markets closed Tuesday. Difference Capital Financial and Difference Capital Inc. will also be consolidated to improve transparency.

The move continues a process to “simplify the organization, streamline the portfolio, and consolidate the professional staff,” John Albright, lead independent director, said in the statement.

Difference rose 9.5 percent to C$1.04 at 4:59 p.m. in Toronto, the biggest gain since March 9. The stock is down 8.8 percent this year, compared with a 3.6 percent gain on the Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index.

Wekerle, who co-founded the company in 2011, is Difference Capital’s largest shareholder, with a 23 percent stake, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

In July, several members of the board of directors resigned, including Wes Hall, CEO of activist adviser Kingsdale Shareholder Services Inc., and Paul Sparkes, who was director of operations for former Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

Toronto-based Difference Capital takes stakes of 2 percent to 5 percent, or about C$10 million, in later stage startups such as Hootsuite Media Inc.

(Corrects June 3 story to remove car reference in fifth paragraph.)
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