04/07/2017 07:27 EDT | Updated 04/08/2018 01:12 EDT

Prominent investor Eric Sprott to step aside as chairman of Sprott Inc.

TORONTO — Eric Sprott will step down as chairman of Sprott Inc. as of May 10, when the fund company holds its annual meeting.

The Toronto-based asset management firm says it expects Jack Lee will become chairman of Sprott's board, a role he has held previously while Sprott was president and CEO of Sprott Inc. (TSX:SII) and Sprott Asset Management Inc.

Eric Sprott, who founded Sprott Inc., is well-known in Toronto's financial community for taking an unconventional approach by investing heavily in alternative assets such as precious metals and correctly anticipating changes in the market's direction.

One publication labelled Sprott a "Bay Street wizard" after he summed up his opinion in two words:  "Buy Gold." 

That was in September 2007, about a year before the collapse of Lehman Bros., one of the key triggers to the collapse of the U.S. banking industry.

In the years following the 2008-09 financial crisis, the price of gold soared to record highs, although it has pulled back since peaking at nearly US$1,900 an ounce in August 2011.

In the company's announcement on Friday, Sprott said he had decided to step down from the board to focus on his personal investments and his family.

"With many years of experience in the natural resource industry and a long tenure on the Sprott board, Jack is the natural choice to take over as chairman and I wish him all the best," he said in a statement.

Lee has been on the board since early 2008 and is currently lead independent director.  He was chairman of Sprott Inc. in its early years as a public company.