Fat cat bankers? More like alley cat bankers

Contact: Brenon Daly, Adam Phipps

If the recent upheaval in the tech advisory practices at bulge-bracket banks was primarily caused by exotic financial instruments that nobody could really understand or even value, the shakeup looming for boutique banks has its roots in something much more fundamental: supply and demand. Essentially, there is an ever-shrinking number of tech M&A mandates available for an ever-growing number of firms.

With all the scrapping and discounting in the low end of the market, many boutiques are finding that getting a print these days is a costly bit of business. So what happened that turned the boutique bankers’ once-profitable and vibrant practice into a market where they’re all tripping over each other to pitch and then trying to undercut each other on price? We’ll look at that question – and the implications of the answer – in a special report on boutique banks in tonight’s Daily 451.

Shrinking mandates

Year Number of sell-side transactions*
2010 300 (annualized number, based on Jan. 1-Aug. 15 activity)
2009 296
2008 397
2007 464

*US-based technology companies, excluding telcos, that used advisers

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase