The curious case of Larry Fondren and DelphX

After a decade with DelphX Capital Markets, the company’s founder and executive chairman was unceremoniously fired “for cause” earlier this month. He still isn’t sure why.

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On February 11, DelphX Capital Markets issued an announcement that its founder, Larry Fondren, had resigned from the company’s board of directors and had been terminated for cause from all of DelphX’s subsidiaries, including DelphX Services Corp. The news may have come as a shock to those who knew Fondren, a 50-year veteran of the insurance and fixed-income industries, but perhaps no one was more befuddled than Fondren, himself.

“It has recently been discovered by the Board that, contrary to fiduciary duties to the Company, Mr. Fondren has been using the Company’s property to advance his own personal interests,” the announcement read.

When I read that [announcement], I thought, ‘What the expletive is this?’
Larry Fondren

In an interview with WatersTechnology, Fondren denies that claim. “When I read that [announcement], I thought, ‘What the expletive is this?’ That is not what the [original resignation] documentation shows. This is certainly not what my understanding was. And this suggests that somehow I’m doing things that are untoward. That’s wrong,” he says.

He offers a timeline spanning almost two months that partially explains, in his view, how he may have ended up in this position. Fondren originally became the company’s executive chairman in April 2019, following the board’s decision to replace him as CEO with two co-CEOs. At a DelphX board meeting on December 31, Fondren says he offered his resignation, unprompted, to avoid the suggestion there was any conflict of interest with his other venture, Entre Global Services, the aim of which is to help institutional investors—primarily life insurance companies and pension funds—maximize their yields.

For contrast, DelphX Capital Markets is a platform focused on risk mitigation and providing an alternative securities-based solution for credit default swaps, through its “Delph” instrument. DelphX Services Corp., founded in 2006, is a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)-registered special-purpose broker-dealer and Finra member firm dedicated to operating the DelphX Alternative Trading System (ATS). Entre Global Services, founded in 2000 by Fondren, is also the founding corporate parent of DelphX, LLC, the original DelphX entity, he says. DelphX is listed on the TSX Venture Exchange in Canada under the ticker DELX.

When Fondren informed the board of his resignation, he says current DelphX CEO, Patrick Wood, who was appointed to the role in June 2020, asked Fondren if he would make his resignation effective on March 1. Fondren says he agreed. (Wood has not returned multiple requests for comment.)

Fondren says all seemed well until he received a letter from the board on February 11, confirming the board’s acceptance of his resignation, effective immediately, and termination of his position on the board and his position as the sole registered principal of the broker-dealer. He says the letter made no mention of wrongdoing by Fondren, but he was unable to share it with WatersTechnology, as it’s marked confidential.

“This is nuts. My reputation has been defamed,” Fondren says. “I mean, if there was documentation somehow that gave rise to this public announcement, that’d be one thing, but there’ isn’t—certainly not to my knowledge. I’ve never been presented with anything that supports what they said.”

It’s unclear whether the accusations levied at Fondren are financial in nature or related to intellectual property, but Fondren has retained counsel specializing in IP matters. No formal lawsuits have been filed by Fondren or the company against each other as of yet, he says.

 “As far as I’m concerned, I continue to invent. That’s what I do,” Fondren says.

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