Interview with Joel Freudman of Trius Investments Inc.

Last update on July 27, 2018.

(Left to Right): Joel Freudman, John M. Robertson, R. Gordon Wheaton, Peter K. Deacon, Robert Harrison, Damian Lopez. (Not Pictured: Yousuf Soliman)

 

Jin’s Note: The following is a transcription of my conversation with Joel Freudman, who serves both as the President of Resurgent Capital Corp. and as the CEO of Trius Investments Inc. (TSXV:TRU). The transcription has been edited for clarity. I don’t own any shares of Trius.

Jin: The last time we talked, you had just started Resurgent Capital and you told me that you were thinking about investing in a few companies. You didn’t tell me which ones, but fast forward a few months you took an active interest in Trius Investments, which I had been a shareholder of before you did that. It’s almost been a year since you took a stake and then became its CEO, so, could you just give us a brief background on why you targeted Trius and how you became its CEO?

Joel: When Trius came up, my initial due diligence was to narrow down the possible opportunity set. It showed up financially as being fairly under-valued, and, as I came to learn later, there were a number of structural reasons to its investments that would explain the under-valuation. But, in any event, from a financial perspective, I looked at the stock, and I saw that it actually had cash-flow and investments, which is unusual for small—for micro-cap companies like this. So, that was the preliminary due diligence. But, once I got a bit more into the story, I thought, “well, these are guys who paid out a large special dividend” which you also rarely, if ever, see in the micro-cap space. [Note: The dividend was $0.58/share, or $6.54 Million in total.] You know, they’re trying to do the right thing, but they’ve obviously got themselves into some sort of trouble, so it’s a confusing story.

So, I talked to the CEO, Gordon, and I obviously had a couple of phone calls with him. I chatted with one of the other directors as well. And, at some point, I met with Gordon and then they invited me out to a board meeting in July last year, and that was when I was appointed to the Board. I realized in meeting with the guys that they were honest businessmen trying to make a living, trying to do right by shareholders. However, they were private company guys, so the whole public company framework, in terms of all the regulatory obligations, disclosure, and the fact that you have to run things by the stock exchange, the fact shareholders need to approve certain types of major transactions; none of those considerations crossed their minds. And, I guess I thought they probably weren’t getting the help they should have been getting, and that played into them being led astray, but, in addition, they just didn’t grasp the public company framework where you actually need all these approvals and filings. They did things more freely like you do in a private company.

So, I thought these are guys who just need a helping hand, but are just trying to do the right thing. They need someone with a public company skill set who can help navigate. For the first couple of months, it became evident to me that a number of changes would be needed. The company was in some fairly serious regulatory issues that are all publicly disclosed relating to failure to meet a lot of their public company obligations, and so, at some point, it became evident to me that a number of changes would be needed at the top to set the proper tone and to make sure that we functioned more efficiently. So, in September, we had someone leave the board and shortly thereafter I replaced Gordon as CEO. He stayed on as  Chairman of the Board and I brought on Damian Lopez who I’ve worked with before. He’s an absolute workhorse and also a lawyer and has significant reporting issuer experience. So, I figured this way I already have an internal second opinion at the company whenever I want to discuss legal issues, and legal and regulatory issues were front and centre for the company at that time because the stock exchange had issued a notice to comply, which is like you’ve broken the rules. You have to follow the rules, and [Trius] were going to be in even more serious trouble if they didn’t start following the rules.

And so the first several months were spent getting my head around the company, the investments, the people, and what would be necessary to fix the company’s problems, and by this I mean the regulatory problems as the most pressing matter, and so that’s how here we are close to a year later and that’s the intro to how I got involved. And the real activist manoeuvres were early on.

Jin: Interesting. So, what was the objective of Gordon and his fellow directors with the company? And—so, I’m sure that this is useful for the readers—Trius used to operate a garbage disposal company. That used to be the main business line of the company for many years. But, then, towards the later stages of the company, they started investing in other areas, primarily real estate ventures, as a way of diversifying. And, then, they sold off the garbage disposal business. So what were they trying to accomplish with those transactions?

Joel: Well, the garbage disposal side--they felt the opportunity had matured. They have that stuff in press releases and what not. They felt that it had become a more competitive market and it was time to get out. It was generating a lot of cash flow, and so they thought, “we’ve got to do something with this money, why don’t we invest it in other ventures that we think will earn a good return for our shareholders.” So, they invested in all these real estate investments, as you’ve mentioned, and, then, one of those investments had some connections to one of the other guys on the board—John Robertson, who’s still on our board. And these—as investors and readers will see--these investments generated a legitimate amount of cash every quarter, so they’re, actually, solid investments from a cash-flow perspective.

These investments--they’re hard assets. They send money to us every quarter. And that’s excellent. You’re not going to go under if you have cash flow coming in. You can cover your public company costs. However, the investments were—the proper approval procedures weren’t always followed in every case, which is why the stock exchange got involved, and also [the investments] are not ideally structured for a public company. Without getting into all the technical stuff, the investments were not ideally structured for a public company in the sense that they were highly illiquid, which is a big problem. There were also problems relating to disclosure, and the investments we could only get so much information out of, although we, as a public company, of course, have to make more frequent reporting on our activities and investments.

And, so, there was a disconnect in terms of how we could deal with our investments and how we could report on them versus what our obligations required us to do. And, so, [the former team] had the rationale, “Look, let’s put our money to work. That makes more money for shareholders.” And, that really was the thinking behind it that the team had. However, I would say, they didn’t pick the best vehicles to invest in, although, also, they didn’t blow it on a bunch of mining stocks that went to zero. So, they did a decent job, but it’s not a platform for growth for a micro-cap public company.

Jin: Yes. It had always felt like overdiversification, like you said. So, one of the first steps that you took, once you became CEO, recognizing all these investments that Trius still had on its books, was that you decided to reclassify the company from industrial to investment issuer, and it sounds like this process went on for quite a few months. Could you explain the significance of this?

Joel: Sure. This was spurred by the [TSX Venture] Stock Exchange review. They looked at the company and said, “You’ve made all these investments; you’re a garbage disposal company; but you now don’t even own garbage disposal anymore; you can’t continue to be classified as a garbage disposal business. It doesn’t reflect the reality of the situation.” And, so, this to me--having gone through procedures like this before in private practice, you don’t ever want to be on the watch list of the Stock Exchange or other regulators. I know that’s a lawyerly thing to say, but it’s honestly true. You don’t want the regulators coming at you all the time.

And, so, in this case, I thought, “We’re clearly on the bad list; mistakes have been made in the past, even if they were with good intentions,” which is important to keep in mind, I think, otherwise I wouldn’t have got involved. And, I thought, “If we’re going to clean up this situation, we’re going to have to go through this whole change of business process, so that we can formalize compliance and also so we can, you know, behave appropriately.” And, also, realistically, investors should have some idea, or a better picture, of what is going on in the company. It’s not like the former guys in the company tried to hide things; it’s just that they weren’t used to public company disclosure, whereas as a securities lawyer, of course, that’s been my training. And, so, I thought, “We’re going to have to go through this whole process. Maybe, we’ll end up having to put out a disclosure document”, which is almost a prospectus level disclosure on our assets.

Anyway, it was a tremendous amount of work, and extreme stress, and cost a ton of money, and, in hindsight, I almost wonder if we would have been better switching exchanges or something. But, I thought, “This is a mess that the company’s got itself into, and our only real way out is to clean up the mess, and to get the job done properly.” And, that involved going through the whole change of business process, and also providing proper fulsome disclosure on everything that had happened, so that everyone would have a chance to say, “What am I actually investing in here, what do these guys actually own?” And, so, the disclosure, a fair bit was done with counsel, but a lot of the disclosure specific to our investments, I wrote myself, because I looked at the contracts — I did all the lawyerly stuff. I looked at all the contracts; I asked questions; I put together the best explanation I could of what it is we own, how it is structured. And, this way, people who are invested in the company can sy, “Well, I guess this is why these guys invested. There’s a real business case for these investments; I guess they’re just not great investments to hold long term for a public company.” So, that’s why we did it. It was really to try and get back to a clean slate with the regulators.

Jin: I see. So, it was prompted by regulation primarily. What about the impairment charges? I see that you took impairment charges soon after you took over as CEO. Were they also prompted by regulatory changes?

Joel: This is more from the business perspective and the accounting perspective. I said when I took over, “We’re going to clean up our change of business process, and we’re going to look to realize some value out of our investments beyond the [cash] distributions--we’ll try and sell them, or we’ll try and come to some kind of arrangement where we can actually divest the investment.” And, over a lot of that process, the investing public doesn’t see it, so, what that involves is you go around to all your contacts, strategic contacts and cold calls, and you undertake a behind the scenes sales process to figure out what you think the best value you can obtain for your investments is. So, it wasn’t just me, the guys on our board as well, and we were all reaching out to our contacts. We added someone last year as well, Peter Deacon, he’s a former stockbroker and he had a very good network of high net-worth people and institutions who would be interested in those kinds of assets.

And, we canvassed the market, and, I kept a list even, but we talked to, I don’t know, 20 or 30 people, different kinds of buyers, to get a sense of real feedback on these assets. Did people like certain assets more than others? What prices would they pay? How would they structure their offers? Et cetera. And, so, over the course of this—I got some of these answers subsequent to the impairment charge, but, even during the course of our initial canvassing of the market, based on the feedback I got, I thought, “there’s no way we’re recouping the full cost of our initial investments”, because we didn’t own actual buildings. We owned investments; we owned minority positions in illiquid private companies. That’s specifically what we owned. We didn’t own publicly traded stock that you go [sell] on the market to cash up, we only owned vehicles difficult to sell out of.

And, so, I thought, “what do we want to do?” If you want to sell something, you have to lower the price. If you put it on sale, you’re more likely to attract more buyers, and so that’s exactly what we did. And part of it was related to an accounting classification, which means we said, “we’re serious, we want to sell these, because these are no longer long term investments, and, so, they’re now assets held for sale.” And, when you do that, you have to re-visit the fair value, and fair value, I figured, is probably lower than the book cost, and, therefore, there’s an impairment charge to apply to the books now. That’s the technical rationale, but it was basically that market feedback indicated that we would not be receiving full cost back for these investments, and so we should price them accordingly.

Jin: Yes. Just for the benefit of our readers, an impairment charge is basically when a company thought its assets were worth X amount, now they realize they’re worth somewhat lower, so they book the difference as an expense. That’s what an impairment charge is.

Joel: It’s a discount for a sale price, absolutely.

Jin:   Yeah. But, now, you had a happy ending with some of those investments that took impairment charges in, didn’t you? Like when you actually sold them, seems like you—

Joel: Absolutely.

Jin: So could you tell us about that? Initially you were somewhat pessimistic about the value you were going to get, hence the impairment charge. So, what happened that allowed you to get a good value?

Joel: Well, we had a total of five investments, each one structured pretty similarly. Four of those were in real estate, the fifth one was in a hedge fund, like an indirect investment in a hedge fund, and that’s not the type of asset where you have a strategic buyer, right? There’s no strategic buyer for a private equity investment, whereas for real estate, for example, there might be a real estate investor or something.

So, for the hedge fund investment, we have a gentleman on our board, John, and through his excellent negotiating prowess, he managed to effectively unwind that investment for full cost. This was an outcome that, at the start of the process, seemed impossible. So, that didn’t just happen. He had to do a ton of negotiations with the hedge fund and other parties to unwind that transaction because, legally, there was no way out until the hedge fund wound up, so really, it was him going into a number of commercial negotiations with a number of different stakeholders to extricate us from this fund. And, there was nothing wrong with the fund either, we just wanted out. It wasn’t that we had to, but we wanted to get out for business and capital markets reasons, not because the fund was in any trouble. I have to make that really clear. And, so, he managed to negotiate our way out of that and essentially returned all the funds to us, and that was an exceptional outcome--way better than we would have hoped.

And, for the real estate, assets like that do have the potential to interest investors etc., we were able to run a much broader auction process. We did it quietly, but we ran a much broader market canvassing for that. And, of course, we received different kinds of numbers, different kinds of structures, and also, through John, who helped manage these real estate buildings, he was much more familiar with them, so, he was able to find a buyer who’s arm’s length. They’re not related to insiders in the company, and they were interested in our minority positions in real estate, and it was quite close to the value that we put on the real estate investments.

And, so, although it would always be nice to get higher [pricing], I think that I can say without any qualification, the offer is firmly competitive financially, but the structure of the offer, it was to buy our entire subsidiary. I mentioned we had five investments. We sold the private equity investment, so we had four investments left, and we faced the prospect of running through an auction process for each of those four investments. John was able to find this buyer, PVR, and they said, “We’ll just scoop up all four at once, and we’re not even going to buy them piecemeal. We’re going to buy your subsidiary that owns all four of them, so, we just do it in one clean transaction with the parent company, which is Trius.”  And, so, that made for fewer approvals, quicker deal execution, more straightforward Canadian tax consequences. There were a slew of benefits to their offer, which made us think: the pricing’s not the most we could theoretically get, but no one has offered us the most we think we could possibly get, and their structure is extremely advantageous for us. It will allow us to move more quickly and cheaply.

And, also, they’re very commercially reasonable guys. I mean, we don’t have a two hundred page asset purchase agreement, like you would see if you were dealing with a large pension fund. So, I think the buyer will be happy because they’re getting a fair deal, and they’re a private company, so these assets are more suitable for them. From our perspective, we are also getting a fair deal financially. We’re getting, I’d argue, the best possible structure for selling these, and we can execute on it fairly quickly, so, everyone will be left happy once the deal closes, and it’s not an insignificant sum of money. It’s US$725,000. That’ll need some adjustments and what not, but that’s quite a good number for investments that, initially, we weren’t sure where we would have to go to sell them.

Jin: Yes. It sounds like a win-win based on that structure of the deal.

Joel: Absolutely. And, they were aware of this, so, that’s how we were able to come to terms on it. Both sides were willing to make trade-offs on it to meet their needs.

Jin: So, it sounds like you divested out of all the investments, then? You backed out of the hedge fund; you sold off–you are in the process of selling the real estate investments in one fell swoop.

Joel: The deal hasn’t closed yet, but, yeah, we’ve got a signed agreement, so that should go through.

Jin: Okay. So, now that you have cash, instead of all these investments, what are your plans with Trius?

Joel: Sure. So, we are an investment issuer now, so, we have the flexibility to make investments. Right now, our investment policy is limited to real estate; however, we can always amend that. We do have flexibility to make investments in whatever we think will create value for shareholders.

There is another alternative, and, so, that’s certainly one business model that’s been floated a little bit internally. As an alternative for a company that has a lot of cash, or that will soon have a lot of cash, and no active business operations, there’s a means to do other corporate transactions where effectively someone else takes over your company and puts an active business in it, usually structured as what’s called a reverse takeover. It’s basically like someone buys your public company and runs their business out of it. It may seem a little foreign, especially to people who run private companies, but that’s a very standard procedure in the micro-cap space.

So, that also could be an attractive opportunity, and while, for example, people may say, “Well, I haven’t heard of this mechanism before,” well, Canopy Growth went public by reverse takeover. A lot of the marijuana companies have gone public by reverse takeover. And, earlier this year, although it may not have worked out so well, a lot of blockchain companies went public via reverse takeover. And, so, that also might be a compelling way to generate real value for shareholders, because, if you find a good business, that would generate some excitement, get more volume in the stock [trading], and hopefully we see the share price go up.

However, there are, not surprisingly, a lot of less than feasible businesses that go public this way and so you have to be careful. But, if we decide to make investments, we are going to be very careful of where we are putting our money, and how easily we can get it out, and what kind of returns we think we’ll make. So, for now, we’re still working towards closing the asset sale. We are starting to look around at what sort of opportunities are out there for the company, whether it’s specific investments or transaction candidates; and, I think that once the asset sale is closed, unfortunately, that will be August, so, August will probably be quiet. But, then, by September, if we haven’t come up with anything, everyone will be back at their desks, and it will be time to really hit the pavement and say, “Okay, it’s time to start looking to pull the trigger on something.”

Jin: Okay. So it sounds like your first preference is to look for these other active investments in an activist role using Trius as a vehicle, is that correct?

Joel: Yes. Because, if you pick a smart deal, you can deliver very good returns to investors. If you look at Trius, Trius shares are now trading at 16 or 17 cents, which is right around our net asset value, based on publicly disclosed figures, and the expected sales proceeds. So, right now, it seems people are buying, and they are basically buying cash, and if we do anything that makes the share price go up, they have the upside potential, and if we do nothing, the downside is general gradual public company cash burn until we start getting more active on the new opportunity, whatever that may be.

So, I see that as a way. And a lot of our shareholders have been shareholders for quite a long time, in addition to how, on the news of our subsidiary sale recently, we’ve got a number of new people buying in, and it’s been, for us, historically good trading volume in our stock. These are all people who would like to see something interesting, and, for me, that holds very good potential, finding a new business opportunity that would attract some real market attention, even on a smaller scale. But, if we see other very compelling market opportunities that are individual investments, I don’t see anything to stop us from doing that. We want to do something that will maximize the value of the company, whether it’s an all out sale or some very shrewd individual investments.

Jin: I see. So, if you go the investment route, do you think that you will focus on private investments, or do you think that you will focus on other public investments?

Joel: Hm. I would say if we were to go that route, which is an “if”, there’s a lot of value to be created by investing at an early stage, so not by investments that have no exit-strategy, but more by either newly public or just pre-public companies. If you look at some of the companies out there, like Quinsam Capital or Rockshield Capital, these are companies that invest in companies that are just about to go public, so they can get some increase in value—some strong increase in value—when they go public, and it gives you liquidity to your investments as well.

Jin: It’s almost like a venture capital, then? Like, when I think about it, companies that are pre--

Joel: Yes. There’s an element of venture investment capital to it, yes. It’s because, much like the approach we’ve taken to sell our assets, we want to do a proper canvassing of the markets to see what kind of deals are out there. If you find a deal, if you find some sort of company that’s looking to go public, that’s so compelling you say, “We think the stock’s going to have good appreciation, good liquidity, good investor interest, it has some sustainability—it’s not going to flame out in two weeks, but it has decent business prospects.” Maybe, we like that company so much that they can go public via reverse takeover of Trius.

Or, if we see two, or three, or four companies like that, and we say, “Well, we want to diversify by spreading out our risk.” Maybe, then, we take pieces of each of those as investments, and start to really carry out the operation of an investment issuer. But, it will really depend on what we see in the markets. Right now, in the summer, there are people who are going to start leaving their desks soon, so, maybe, it’ll be a couple of months to really get a good handle on it, to what would be the smartest, most lucrative next move for Trius.

Jin: When you first started Resurgent, you were looking at penny stocks like Trius. I’m assuming that’s where you saw a lot of opportunity, and that’s why you chose that category, is that correct?

Joel: Penny stocks?

Jin: Yes.

Joel: Yes. Well, there’s a ton—there are a lot of companies out there that are, in some form or another, like Trius was--at least when I found it--in that not everyone is so concerned about complying, or meeting all their obligations as a public company. And, I mean, we don’t do that, certainly, and I’ve made a point of not doing that. But [other companies] probably get away with ess than acceptable, frankly, disclosure.

So, I explain to investors what’s going on. If you’re making good returns for everyone, if you’re honest people. But, what I’ve tended to see is the people who really care about what they are doing and want to do an honest job, and they’re hard workers, et cetera - they’ve got paperwork filed, et cetera, they’ve probably had a lawyer put it together -- whatever the case, they put some effort into it.

And, then there are people who don’t really care about any public company regime, don’t have much interest in making a decent return for their investors. Those times, it’s much more haphazard. And [their] disclosure’s messy; it doesn’t add up. You know, numbers don’t add up. You have press releases that don’t make sense, or there’s no substance. And, typically, they’re people who own a lot of [cheap] stock and they’re just trying to promote their own stock; or, they’re taking a huge salary and they couldn’t care less if the stock goes to zero as long as they’re getting their salary. And, so, I do see some opportunities along the lines of Trius, but there’s a lot of trash. I do see a lot of people trying to do an honest job, but the vast majority that I’ve come across, which is why I pull the trigger so infrequently, are these companies where they really don’t have much going on, but, [for] whatever reason, the people at the top are still sitting on the shell, probably because it’s too difficult to kick them out.

Jin: Yes, right. I certainly had that feeling looking at a few penny stocks myself. So, it sounds like Trius was really a special situation where it was: a) run by honest people and b) it needed your specific expertise.

Joel: Yeah. I really would say that. I think Trius is really a diamond in the rough. I hope I can find others like this. I’ve invested in a couple of other companies. I invested in a few earlier on that I backed out of quickly once I got a better handle on how they were really run, after speaking to the management, et cetera. And, then, more recently, I made a couple of different investments through Resurgent that are—there’s a different approach to each of them, but I’m that much more selective even than a year ago. I won’t needlessly put any dollars at risk. It has to be a very compelling investment thesis, as well as a very strong likelihood that there will be a strong return for my investors in Resurgent, and a realistic path to some sort of control.

Now, whether that is sheer out-and-out activism, or more behind the scenes like Trius, --even just co-investing with other people on some sort of transaction that they’re running, but they’re associates of mine--all those kinds of structures are still along the lines of catalyzing management to do the right thing for shareholders, but I’m taking far fewer shots at companies, even where it looks like they have a lot of money, if it’s extremely badly managed and it means they have a lock on things. Because, unfortunately, that’s all too common in the micro-cap space, and there’s a lot of people who will stop at nothing to keep their jobs and will run the company into the ground to do so, which is, unfortunately, in no one’s interest.

Jin: I hear you. As someone who’s—I lost money because a penny stock turned out to be a fraud. I totally hear you.

Joel: Yes. You get exactly what I’m talking about.

Jin: Yes.

Joel: Everyone really has to do their homework—do their homework first—at the very least ask a second question beyond the hype of the press release, dig just a little deeper.

Jin: Yes. I’m actually quite thankful that I experienced a fraud like that just because it helped me to be aware of things. Like, I didn’t lose a ton of money, you know, so it was a worthwhile lesson.

Joel: But, you’re a particularly diligent guy, anyway, Jin.

Jin: Hah, thank you!

Joel: I don’t think you’re representative. I think you probably do much more homework than a lot of people do. Which is good. And, then, you share it with your readers, so at least they’ve got their eyes open instead of walking into certain situations.

Jin: Thank you. Yeah, I try. But, I find it’s hard to always get a good sense of what management is doing--especially with the penny stocks, because they don’t often disclose a whole lot.

Joel: Yes. Well, that’s what my business is premised on—in finding places where I think I can get a real shot at cleaning things up.

Jin: Okay.  So, that’s all the questions I had. Was there anything else that you wanted to talk about?

Joel: Not really, although, I guess I should put in a whole lot of hype about Trius now.

[Laughter]

Joel: Highly substantiated hype, ideally. No, I appreciate that you’ve given me the opportunity of this interview. People did read the last interview on Resurgent. I think this is a fascinating story because, as I’ve mentioned to you before, the Resurgent and Trius stories have converged, and I think that it’s interesting that you covered them both, and, fundamentally, I think that there are more opportunities, but every one will be different. I may never find another Trius.

But, I will find other companies to kick tires on, or take a run at, or to work with in any kind of fashion. And, I am certain I can put up a nice win on the board for Trius. We are all interested in furthering our reputations in the capital markets as honest, hardworking guys trying to do smart deals. You know, we all work hard, we also hope to make good returns on our investment. We’re putting our names at risk; we’re putting our money at risk; we’re spending a lot of time on it. But I think you can never have enough people who are just trying to honestly do a good job, and I think it is something that is, unfortunately, lacking for the most part in the real micro-cap space. So, I like to think that, certainly Resurgent, unlike the other guys we can differentiate ourselves from, down the road we’re trying to build something legitimate.

Jin: And, I can see that that kind of accountability will be very helpful in the micro-cap space.

Joel: And, I can tell you that that attitude is the only reason that we ultimately got out of the stock exchange situation with Trius—because we just kept calling all these people and saying, “The Old Management, they should have had more professional support. Now we’ve got new people in and we’re running a clean public company here; we’re doing our best to get the job done right here. There’s going to be mistakes here and there, but we are trying to do an honest job. Couldn’t you use more issuers like this on your exchange?” And, it takes time to prove that you aren’t just giving them a line. But, eventually, they came around to that, and the only reason we are here today is because we did our best to earn regulatory confidence and now, hopefully, investor confidence, that we are dealing properly as best we can and we are going to do our best to do whatever it is we say we are going to do.

Jin: Yes. I appreciate that. I read that biography on Buffett, and even Buffett, who has, like, as good a reputation as anyone can have, even he ran afoul of regulation, not because of any ill intent, but because there are just some rules that he didn’t’ consider. The regulators ended up examining them and seeing no wrong in intentions, and they let him go. But, I remember that even he had troubles like that, which means that everyone does.

Joel: Yes. I’m surprised to hear that. But, I can also say this: that as the CEO of– I used to do all this stuff in private practice, and – as the CEO of a public company, there is an endless wave of regulation and policies to adhere to, and it can be crushing at times, and this is from someone who has a business degree, and a law degree, and was a securities lawyer in private practice. The sheer volume of requirements that public companies are subjected to—and it’s different for, say, Royal Bank, which has perhaps four hundred people probably working on this day in, day out. But, if you’re running a four-person shop, or a ten-person small company, the amount of time and money you spend on all the regulatory obligations, it is crushing. And so, I see it from the business side now, and I can appreciate why some people slip up. It’s different if people legitimately have no interest in following the rules, but there is a lot of room for minor errors here and there, because the sheer volume of things you have to keep on top of is bordering on unmanageable.

Jin: Yeah. I hear you.

Joel: Yeah. Now I get it.

Jin: Okay. Well, that’s been very insightful. Thank you so much, and, please, keep me posted on how Trius goes.

Joel: Yes. Sure. When we are ready to make some moves, I’m sure we’ll have some more announcements; so, we’ll try and do whatever it is we say we are ultimately going to do.

 

I would like to thank Joel for taking the time to chat with me. If you would like more information on Trius Investments, please consult the company’s Sedar page, which lists all of Trius’s public releases.

CAUTIONARY NOTE FROM TRIUS

This interview contains “forward-looking information” within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities laws. Generally, forward-looking information can be identified by the use of words and phrases such as “plans”, “expects”, “continues”, “estimates”, “intends”, “anticipates”, or “believes”, or variations of such words and phrases indicating that certain actions, events or results “may”, “could”, “would”, “might” or “will” be taken or occur. Forward-looking information in this interview includes, without limitation, statements regarding the sale of Trius’ U.S. subsidiary, and Trius’ future strategy, plans, and objectives. This forward-looking information consists of disclosure regarding possible events, conditions or results and is based on numerous assumptions that management believes to be reasonable in the circumstances, including that the subsidiary sale will be completed as currently contemplated and Trius will be successful in identifying new investments or business opportunities.

The forward-looking information herein is subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that may cause Trius’ actual results or performance to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking information, including but not limited to: inability to complete the subsidiary sale; difficulty in sourcing and executing new investments and transactions on favourable terms or at all; difficulty in attracting and retaining qualified personnel; and other risks described in Trius’ continuous disclosure documents. There can be no assurances that the forward-looking information in this interview will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events may differ materially from those anticipated by such information. Accordingly, investors should not place undue reliance on such forward-looking information. Trius does not undertake to update any forward-looking information herein, except as may be required by applicable securities laws.

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