Bill Holland’s unshakeable faith in CI Financial

OPM 2 min read

Bill Holland keeps buying shares of his CI Financial - relentless buying in meaningful 6 or 7 figure chunks for years now. Just in the past 10 days, he has bought about 330k shares, worth a bit over $5m. Over the past year, he has acquired about 1.1m shares, of which he gave away 140k for charity purposes. He currently owns 10.8m shares, a stake worth about $175m. The second largest insider is one Brigette Chang-Addorisio, who owns about 10.2m shares. She’s the heiress of Raymond Chang, another major figure at CI.

CI Financial itself is buying back its own shares in size, currently at a pace of $300m per year, with nearly 90m shares bought back over past 5 years. CI has essentially said they are privatizing their Canadian asset management business via buybacks. At the current pace, all shares could be bought back in 8 years. Plus, the stock still yields about 5%.

Industry legend Bill Holland is now 65 years old. Since 2017, he has been Chairman of CI, after giving up the “Executive Chairman” title. Previously, he was the CEO who catapulted CI into the big leagues. Bill's first big move was borrowing $150k from the bank in 1991 to invest in CI Financial. Over his association with CI, he has seen his shares go from a penny stock to $16 these days - that’s not including dividends received over the years. I have seen a recent picture of Bill, but I cannot share it. All I can say is that he still has his lantern jaw, but time waits for no one.

While CI Financial makes up the bulk of Bill’s net worth, he has a long history of opportunistic and contrarian investing. During the Global Financial Crisis, he bought something like $75m in distressed Florida real estate, mostly in Fort Lauderdale, alongside Mike Wekerle. In 2015, he was bargain-hunting oil stocks, for example, buying Parex Resources at $7 - it’s now at $22 (plus dividends). Over the years, he has invested in a wide variety of early-stage companies. He also has a gambling streak in sports, cards and stocks.

CI Financial is being transformed by CEO Kurt MacAlpine, who was appointed in 2019 at age 38. The ups and down of MacAlpine's move to consolidate Registered Investment Advisors in the US have been well covered elsewhere. CI has deployed billions in the US, but has not completely stayed still on the homefront. I was especially intrigued last year, when CI acquired Montreal-based Coriel Capital. That's a firm led by 3 women with $1.3B AUM from 14 Canadian families with average account size of over $90m.

Bill has expressed unwavering support for MacAlpine's moves, telling Bloomberg in late 2022:

I think it’s the single best decision we made, to go down this route three years ago. And I’ve been here 34 years.”

If you want a very complete financial analysis of CI, read the following: https://chaptertwelve.substack.com/p/deciphering-ci-financial

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