CEO and directors spar in Payfirma boardroom battle

CEO sets meeting to try to stop directors from trying to “seize control” of company

Payfirma CEO Michael Gokturk believes three directors are preventing what he calls a "liquidity" transaction | Chung Chow

Payfirma CEO Michael Gokturk and several of his company’s directors are having a public sparring match after Gokturk announced a special meeting and urged shareholders to vote against the directors to prevent them from “trying to seize control of the company.”

Gokturk accused directors Roger Hardy, Marc Levy and Lance Tracey of taking “actions to obstruct Mr. Gokturk’s and other directors’ efforts to advance a transaction that would give Payfirma shareholders more liquidity, enhance the company’s value and offer shareholders the option of continued ownership.”

The three directors at the privately held payment-processing company then released a statement to correct what they called Gokturk’s “misstatements” that were “false, misleading and disparaging.”

The directors described themselves as “independent directors” and said that they have collectively invested approximately $3.5 million in cash into Vancouver-based Payfirma. They added that they have a proven track record of creating significant shareholder value for the companies they have supported and led. 

“Collectively, the independent directors are responsible for returns to shareholders in excess of over $1.5 billion over their careers through a variety of successful monetization transactions,” they said in the statement. “The independent directors have provided significant guidance and leadership to the growth and advancement of Payfirma over the last six years.”

They then went on the offensive and claimed that Gokturk, together with the company’s founding director and CEO of BluePay Inc., John Rante, and director Ryan Holmes, “have brought negligible value to Payfirma.”

The independent directors also claimed that neither Gokturk nor Holmes made any cash investments in the company.

“The transaction mentioned by Mr. Gokturk in his disparaging news release is not a ‘liquidity transaction’ and does not provide a venue for shareholders to trade their shares on a stock exchange,” the independent directors said. 

“The proposed transaction was carefully evaluated by a special committee of the board of directors, who determined such transaction to be grossly inadequate and outside of customary market terms.”

The special meeting for shareholders is October 24.