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Canadian banker dies after collapsing at Kona triathalon

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Paul Reynolds, chief executive officer of Canadian investment bank Canaccord Genuity Group Inc., has died after competing in a Hawaii triathlon last weekend. He was 52.

Reynolds died in Kona following “complications” during the swim portion of the Olympic-distance Lavaman Waikoloa Triathlon. The Toronto-based company didn’t provide further details on the cause of death in a statement Thursday.

Reynolds joined Canaccord in 1985 as an investment adviser and rose to become CEO in 2007. He led the company through a financial crisis that brought deals and lending to a standstill. He managed the London office as president of European operations from 1999 to 2007.

“As the architect of our firm’s global transformation, Paul’s distinct style of partnership, friendship and respect over three decades of commitment is just part of the legacy he leaves us all,” Chairman David Kassie said in the statement.

Kassie, 59, will replace Reynolds as CEO effective immediately, Canada’s largest non-bank brokerage said in the statement. Canaccord, created in 1950, has more than 2,000 employees and offers wealth management, trading and investment- banking services in 10 countries.

Eugene McBurney, chairman of rival GMP Securities LP, said Reynolds’s death is a huge loss for the business community in Canada. McBurney knew Reynolds for 15 years and worked with him on 40 or 50 transactions.

“He was a competitor but we also collaborated on a lot of deals,” McBurney said in an interview. “More importantly he was a friend.”

Reynolds more than doubled Canaccord’s assets during his tenure, to $3.1 billion as of Dec. 31. The recent plunge in oil prices has reduced deals in the energy sector, driving down the company’s share price.

Canaccord dipped 49 percent since the start of 2008, and the company recently cut 4 percent of staff in its U.K., Europe and U.S. capital-markets units. The firm also restructured its U.S. fixed-income business last year. Canaccord rose 2.7 percent to C$6.82 at 11:16 a.m. in Toronto, for a market value of C$695 million.

Over the weekend, newspapers including the Hawaii Tribune Herald reported a 52-year-old man was transported to the hospital after participating in the Lavaman Triathlon on the Island of Hawaii on Sunday. The newspaper, attributing the information to Hawaii fire officials, said rescuers found the man floating in the ocean without a pulse and not breathing during the swim portion of the race.

Men between the ages of 40 to 60 are most at risk of cardiac arrest caused by the vigorous exercise associated with triathlons, research has shown. The death rate for triathlons is about twice that of marathons due to increased intensity of the competition, according to a 2012 study published last year in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

The swimming portion is especially treacherous, research shows. The bulk of triathlon fatalities have occurred during the swim event and USA Triathlon has estimated the odds of death are 1 in about 76,000 participants.

Open-water racing triggers a “fight or flight” response from physical exertion, cold water temperature or anxiety. That can speed up the heart rate which can cause hyperventilation as the body tries to slow the heart to conserve oxygen with water entering the nose, mouth, and throat, according to researchers at the U.K.’s University of Portsmouth.

The Lavaman is an Olympic-distance triathlon, and includes a 1.5 kilometer (0.9 mile) swim, 40-kilometer bike ride, and 10- kilometer run, according to its website.

Reynolds, born March 26, 1963, is survived by his wife and four children.

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