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May 18, 2017

Home Capital adds fifth new board member in two weeks

A sign shows the logos of Home Capital Group's subsidiaries Home Trust and Oaken Financial.

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Another member of the old guard is departing Home Capital’s (HCG.TO) board amid a widespread renewal at the embattled mortgage lender.

John Marsh, one of the original investors in the company, is being replaced in the boardroom by governance lawyer James Lisson. In a news release Thursday, Home Capital Board Chair Brenda Eprile said Lisson’s expertise is key to the company’s turnaround efforts.

"Jim Lisson is yet another excellent addition to the Home Capital Board of Directors as we move ahead with our governance renewal," Eprile said. "He brings deep expertise in areas that are vital to our future success, and we look forward to his counsel."

Lisson’s appointment is the fifth such change the company has made in the past two weeks, as it looks to stem deposit outflows and patch up confidence in the firm. On May 8, Home Capital added a slate of pension fund heavyweights, including former Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Chief Executive Officer Claude Lamoureux and former OMERS CEO Paul Haggis. Lisson’s addition is the first since Eprile replaced Kevin Smith as board chair.

The company faces a tall task in restoring market confidence, as high interest savings account outflows have begun anew after briefly stabilizing last Friday. Home Capital is reporting a further $4 million fled those accounts on Tuesday, bringing the total balance to just $117 million, a fraction of the $2 billion on the books at the end of March.

The company has faced a run on both HISA and guaranteed investment certificate deposits since the Ontario Securities Commission announced an investigation into disclosures made by a trio of former executives, tied to the income fraud scandal of 2014-15. Founder Gerald Soloway stepped aside from the company’s board in late April, though he remains its fourth-largest investor; and former CFO Robert Morton was recently shuffled into a non-executive role. Former Chief Executive Officer Martin Reid was fired on March 27.

In an interview on BNN Tuesday, Soloway’s replacement, Alan Hibben, said filling the roles of CEO and CFO remain one of the company’s top priorities, though he doesn’t expect the search to conclude for at least the next 45 days. In the interim, Hibben said the board is hard at work to find a replacement for the costly $2-billion line of credit provided by the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan.