If top investment bankers leave bulge brackets to escape bureaucracy (and earn more money) at boutiques, it’s no surprise that those at the top of these small advisers don’t exactly follow the rules.
George Boutros and Frank Quattrone, co-founders of tech-focused boutique Qatalyst Partners, which (alongside Allen & Co) has had prime spot on some of the biggest technology deals in recent years, are a case in point.
The two men court controversy and maintain secrecy in equal measure, according to Bloomberg. Rivals accuse them of bullying their way to the top of the tech M&A business, of being abrasive and overly aggressive. And yet they also fear them to the point that one large Wall Street bank supposedly prepared a 10-page presentation where it outlined its ability to counteract Qatalyst.
“The playbook is, we don’t have a playbook,” said Boutros. “We have to understand what it is that motivates an acquirer to want an asset. Where is your leverage as a seller?”
Those in the know says Qatalyst does whatever it takes to secure the deal – it “plays bidders off each other, bluffs about prices and buyers’ interest, forces tight deadlines to stunt due diligence”, says Bloomberg.
Qatalyst has this year bagged $220m in fees and has been involved LinkedIn’s $26.2bn sale to Microsoft. It has just 60 employees, but is just behind Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley in the M&A league tables.
Most investment banks convince company executives to accept a lower price than they would like to get the deal over the line – they don’t get paid unless deals are completed. Qatalyst is consistently aggressive on price.
“Qatalyst’s willingness to take an aggressive stance on price is so valued in the community,” Bill Gurley, a general partner at venture capital firm Benchmark Capital, who worked with Qatalyst.
Separately, if you want to read a full profile of Donald Trump’s new campaign chief executive and proprietor of right wing news outlet Brietbart News, Stephen K. Bannon, Bloomberg has a 5,000-word expose right here.
Here are the highlights: he has a fondness for cargo shorts; he used to work for Goldman Sachs, but left to set up a boutique with the man who used to manage the Backstreet Boys; he took a stake in five shows in lieu of a full advisers fee for a deal with Ted Turner and Castle Rock Entertainment – one of those was Seinfeld; his personal motto is “Honey badger don’t give a sh-t”.
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