M&A Opportunities Within Corporations

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With strategic acquisitions a relative bright spot within today's lean mergers and acquisitions landscape, some laid-off investment bankers are landing as in-house dealmakers with their former corporate clients.

Movement of bankers from Wall Street to corporate development slots becomes more visible during financial-sector downturns. TheDeal.com cited two recent instances. Mike Schell, a former global banking vice chairman at Citigroup, joined longtime client Alcoa as executive VP, business development and law in May. Another Wall Street veteran, Eric Cohen, recently took over as head of corporate development for Dolby Laboratories Inc.

Research analysts are eyeing the corporate development arena as well. The New York Society of Security Analysts has scheduled a program on careers in corporate development and strategy, for July 15.

The Deal's story contains several caveats, however. "For both cultural and compensation issues, it's a lot easier for junior (bankers) to make the switch." Moreover, even giant corporations' in-house deal teams are tiny by Wall Street standards, so the number of possible openings is limited. "They may do some incremental hiring, but that means a seven-man team as opposed to a five-man team," Randy Gulian, chief executive of InSearch Worldwide, told the Deal.

Moving to the corporate side needn't be permanent. The Deal cites an example from the previous industry downturn. Energy banker Bob Jeffe left Credit Suisse First Boston in 2001 and joined General Electric as senior vice president in charge of corporate business development. Three years later, with Wall Street in recovery mode, Jeffe was named chairman of the corporate finance advisory group for Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.

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