Campbell Becher has been in the investment banking industry in Canada for over 20 years and ran Byron Capital from 2006 until 2014. Based on his experience, "I've always found the most success when I searched for new ideas before The Street had found them," Becher told Streetwise Reports.
"When I started Byron Capital, I knew that we didn't want to be a me-too firm. I was lucky to have some great mentors in the business, including Gene McBurney, the founder of GMP Capital." Becher coined the term "electric metals" and in Byron Capital built out a research-driven firm that focused on electric metals, such as lithium and cobalt.
Working in investment banking made Becher realize that he did not want to be everything to everyone and that he wanted to narrow his focus. "I've never had success in trading," Becher noted. "I've had success in buying and holding. Every time I have found big success it's been from really doing the work, getting involved in the story and helping management."
So that is what Becher has done. He tells CEOs in companies that he wants to invest in that he wants to be a key advisor. "Having the experience I have on Bay Street in investment banking and knowing how to triangulate research, sales and trading, and investment banking has really been a support system for the CEOs I work with," Becher explained.
Becher now concentrates on three areas.
The first is plant-based meat. Becher sits on the board of Vancouver-based Modern Meat Inc. (MEAT:CSE), which is in the process of changing its name to Modern Plant Based Foods Inc. He also serves as its head of finance and M&A. "I'm a believer in plant foods on a global basis; animal based proteins are going to become very, very expensive. And it's a healthier lifestyle," Becher explained.
"I have long been an advocate in the vegan sector, as I believe this is a fundamental shift to peoples' long-term consumption habits," Becher said. "When I first identified energy metals and raised hundreds of millions in that space, I saw the gap between fossil fuels and hybrid vehicles, and today I feel there is going to be a similar shift in sustainable food consumption."
The second investment area is helium. Helium reminds Becher of the early days of lithium: scarce supply and high political risk; most of the world's helium comes from Algeria, Qatar and Russia. "The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has sold off its strategic reserve, which has left the U.S. in a massive deficit," Becher explained.
He began studying the sector and noticed that Cormark put out a macro report on helium, and then began covering two helium stocks, Desert Mountain and Royal Helium Ltd. (RHC:TSX.V). "I got really excited because I know that investment banks don't usually cover $10–15 million market cap companies, especially one that just did a 5 cent financing and the stock is trading at 25 cents. I became an investor right away and joined the board of Royal Helium." Royal Helium is conducting exploratory helium drilling in southern Saskatchewan.
Becher described his synergistic relationship with Royal Helium CEO Andrew Davidson. "He is a phenomenal CEO. To do business in Saskatchewan, you have to be from Saskatchewan," Becher said, "but I thought to myself, we could make a great team. I could help him on the capital markets, be a support system, and use my relationships to introduce the helium narrative to The Street. And lo and behold, The Street started taking up this narrative."
Eight Capital just did a private deal with Imperial Helium, which is also a large holding of Becher's family office as well. "Eight Capital put out a great macro report, Canaccord put out a great macro report. I know that Haywood is working in the square as well. When you see The Street putting out macro reports, it means that they're going to tee up individual stock research, and the only reason they would do that is they see this as a sector that's about to get really hot," Becher said.
Becher's third area is CBDs. There is a slightly roundabout tale to this. Paul Meehan, the brother of Becher's neighbor Joe Meehan, was the founder of Nütrl Vodka Soda, which is basically the Canadian equivalent to White Claw in the U.S. The brand was bought out by Anheuser-Busch InBev.
"Paul Meehan also owns an ad agency and is a creative genius in addition to being a brand guy," Becher explained. "Paul created CENTR Brands for us and put together the taste profile." CENTR Brands Corp. (CNTR:CSE; CNTRF:OTC) is a Vancouver-based non-alcoholic beverage company that has a line of sparking beverages containing CBD derived from hemp for distribution in the U.S.
Becher sits on the board of CENTR Brands. "We are in around 19 states right now and about to launch into more, so it's looking phenomenal," Becher said. "People are looking for more of a healthier lifestyle. I think people are looking to get away from alcohol and into something a lot deeper and more healthy. I am a big believer in CBD and believe that people will gravitate to CBD far before THC."
In his investments, Becher concluded, "I'm certainly going a lot more narrow, but much more in depth now."
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