New boutique advisory firm hiring M&A bankers, launching private equity group

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A boutique investment bank founded by a corporate lawyer who cut his teeth working M&A deals for Goldman Sachs is growing its team and expanding the scope of its business. Launched last May, Silicon Valley-based 52 Capital Partners is adding senior M&A bankers and just formed a new private equity subsidiary.

The independent advisory firm was founded by David Willard, who kickstarted his career as an analyst at Goldman Sachs in London before spending the vast majority as a corporate lawyer in New York at legal giant Cravath, Swaine & Moore, where he advised on M&A deals, leveraged buyouts and other corporate transactions. Willard said the firm is actively recruiting dealmakers. Its most notable recent senior addition is Mark Szczuka, formerly of Ridgehouse Capital, who started as a managing director late last month. 52 Capital plans to add a few more bankers in the coming weeks and months. 

Meanwhile, the firm also just formed a separate private equity division, 52 Capital Group, which will focus on making investments in lower-to-mid market businesses in North America. The advisory division works mostly with North American corporations that have dealings in China, including mergers and acquisitions and transactions involving IP law. Willard helped advise NBA star Michael Jordan on his successful appeal to China's Supreme People's Court over trademark infringement in 2016.

Hiring at U.S. boutiques spiked in 2018 as the climate for M&A deals remained strong up until the very end of the year. However, fee pipelines at boutiques are up 12%, on average, in 2019, according to analysis from Buckingham Research Group.

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