Bull Bear Report Apr 14 2011

Goldman, Merrill, UBS Vets Power Evercore's Surge

By liz moyer

Evercore Partners is out to prove it is more than just the cult of Roger Altman.

After hiring or promoting more than 25 senior bankers to partner since the beginning of 2007, Evercore has become a melting pot of Wall Street's bulge bracket firms.

Their thick rolodexes landed Evercore on some of the biggest recent deals, including NASDAQ OMX Group Inc.'s $11.3 billion hostile bid for NYSE Euronext, AT&T Corp.'s $39 billion announced purchase of Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile USA division, Sanofi-Aventis SA's $20 billion deal for Genzyme Corp., and Lubrizol Corp.'s $9 billion sale to Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Its most recent hire is Raymond B. Strong, a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. managing director and 20-year banking veteran, who advised Chevron Corp. on its $4.3 billion acquisition of Atlas Energy LP in November and Kinder Morgan Inc. on its $1.5 billion initial public offering.

Strong, whose other clients include Hess Corp. and Murphy Oil Corp., will join Evercore this summer as senior managing director and part of its energy banking group, working with Merrill Lynch veteran Robert Pacha.

Last month the firm lured Eric Mandl, a top technology banker at UBS AG. Mandl advised International Business Machines Corp. on its $1.7 billion acquisition of Netezza in September and Dell Inc. on its $960 million deal for Compellent in December.

Part of the lure is ex-Treasury official Altman, a Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Blackstone Group LP alum with high-level connections who founded Evercore 15 years ago. Altman's long-standing relationship as an adviser to AT&T helped land a piece of that deal. He also fielded phone calls directly from Berkshire's Warren Buffett during the secret negotiations on the Lubrizol deal.

But in a recent interview Altman said he has deliberately taken less prominent roles as the number of Evercore partners has swollen from 33 in 2007 to 58 as of the end of March, not including the two new hires.

Morgan Stanley veteran Jane Gladstone is advising Nasdaq. On Lubrizol, Eduardo Mestre and Steve Schaible, who joined from Citibank in recent years, did the heavy lifting, he said. On Genzyme, Credit Suisse Group alum Francois Maisonrouge "would have been just fine on that deal if I were climbing K2," Altman said flippantly.

"I just spent six or seven days on the road working on individual situations. All of the partners are doing fine. They are not waiting for my call," he said.

Altman and Ralph Schlosstein, who drives the day to day operations of the firm as chief executive as well as oversees its expansion abroad and its foray into stock underwriting, said they will add about four to six partners a year through hiring as the firm expands.

"We have an unusually strong position with global companies headquartered in the U.S. and North America and we've been very aggressively, but thoughtfully, expanding the global nature of our businesses so we can better serve those large clients," said Schlosstein, who is also a transplant, having joined in 2009 from BlackRock, where he was president.

For its prominence, Evercore still has a way to go to catch up with its bulge bracket competitors when it comes to raking in revenues. It climbed to eleventh place from nineteenth in global M&A deal volume in the first quarter, according to data by Thomson Reuters, but not in the revenue rankings globally. In the U.S., Evercore ranked ninth in deal volume, up from eighteenth place in the first quarter last year, and 13th in revenues, according to Thomson Reuters.

Revenues are recorded when the deals close, however. Analysts at Barclays Capital note Evercore's backlog has a cumulative deal value of about $70 billion in dollar volume and $80 million worth in fees, citing Dealogic data, future revenues that haven't been that high since the first quarter 2006.

Other analysts caution that the M&A business waxes and wanes, even in a year that seems to have started out well. "It's probably going to be solid, but disappointing relative to high expectations," said David Trone, an analyst at JMP Securities.

Altman is frequently mentioned as a candidate when new government jobs come up. He was considered for a recent vacancy on President Obama's economic advisory team, but didn't get the nod and says he's not looking to leave. Would Evercore be able to get the big-ticket assignments without him at the helm? "Evercore would continue without missing a beat," he said.

Liz Moyer is a reporter for Dow Jones Newswires, where this story originally appeared. Write to her here.

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