How evergreen Evercore is defying its critics

David Hellier
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I realise that investment bankers like nothing better than heaping criticism and (most often) venom onto their rivals. Even so I was somewhat taken aback recently when one eminent banker described Evercore as a “retirement home for veteran bankers.” A bit tough, one might think.

Naturally, it was a phrase that stuck in my mind. But, as the days have passed, I have seen plenty of evidence to suggest that Evercore is anything but.

Instead it represents all that is positive about a boutique investment bank that can win over clients on the grounds that it will give them unbiased, unconflicted advice (which, by the way, my eminent banker’s team probably can not).

In the past few days Evercore has been taken on to advise Nasdaq in its joint bid with ICE for control of the NYSE and it was also on the roster for AT&T in its bid for T-Mobile US, with executive chairman Roger Altman involved in both deals.

In the recent M&A tables for the first quarter of 2011, Evercore comes eleventh, a place ahead of another big-name investment banking boutique Greenhill.

In Europe the bank has advised the Qataris on their investment in Hochtief and Lafarge on its joint venture with Anglo American. One senior banker there describes the process as advising “complex companies on complex deals.”

I presume the allusion to the retirement home comes because a couple of bankers, such as Robert Gillespie and Anthony Fry, joined Evercore after long and illustrious careers at other banks (Gillespie at UBS and Fry at Credit Suisse).

But there is nothing remotely end of career about some of the bank’s other London stars such as Bernard Taylor, Julian Oakley or Ian Ferguson, who continue to bring in the mandates with as much vigour as they ever did.

When shares in the identity theft protection group CPP last week slumped by 46 per cent in one day, some banking rivals pointed a finger at JP Morgan and UBS, the two bank advisers that floated the group only a year before. But when CPP is accused by the FSA of overselling its identity card theft products it was interesting for me to be directed to a Home Office web-site (which carries with it an FSA endorsement warning of the dangers of identity theft). The warnings come complete with scary stats.

If the FSA can give its endorsement to that site, how does it argue CPP is overselling? I know the FSA has other issues too with CPP but could it be that the red faces will be with the regulator in the end (just as it was in the case of Gartmore).?