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Harris Fricker, who joined GMP's investment banking group in 2002, will replace Kevin Sullivan as CEO and remain president.

Fernando Morales/Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

GMP Capital Inc.'s chief executive officer is handing day-to-day management of the investment dealer to his successor, a transition plan that has been in place for some time, according to a source.

Kevin Sullivan, who was once a lawyer in Calgary, felt that it was time to step back after years at the helm of the firm. His title will be assumed by Harris Fricker, who joined GMP's investment banking group in 2002.

Mr. Fricker became an obvious candidate for the CEO's role when he was made president in 2008. He has been overseeing investment banking in Toronto and Montreal, and is the co-chairman for GMP Securities Europe LLP.

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A source said Mr. Fricker will continue to be president in addition to CEO.

Earlier this month, GMP reported second-quarter profits of $22.5-million, up 177 per cent from earnings of $8.1-million in the same period a year earlier.

"Although market conditions became increasingly more challenging in the latter half of this quarter, the resiliency of the GMP franchise and our strong client relationships provided us the opportunity to lead or co-lead several of the largest equity underwriting transactions completed in Canada during the second quarter," Mr. Sullivan stated in a press release at the time.

GMP is known as a top trading house, and a financier of mining, energy and tech companies. That has left it exposed to see-sawing markets, and the firm has paid for that. It had to cut its dividend during the downturn.

It has tried to branch out to smooth its earnings, with mixed results. It struggled as two of the biggest strategic initiatives it undertook under Mr. Sullivan have been having a tough time. The acquisition of a private equity firm led to a big writedown, and the buildup of a network of private wealth advisers has yet to turn into a profitable venture.

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