Advisors in EMC-Data Domain: a chorus and a solo

Contact: Brenon Daly

It’s often said that there are three types of falsehoods: lies, damn lies and statistics. To that list, we might be tempted to add a fourth category: league tables. That’s in the front of our minds because we just put together our mid-2009 update to the rankings of the busiest tech banks. (For those curious, Credit Suisse Securities took the top honor, with more deals and more dollars advised than any other bank. Banc of America Securities and JP Morgan Securities rounded out the podium.)

To be clear, we’re not saying that banks make up deal credits. Instead, we’re just noting that the credits, like statistics, may be more malleable than most people think. As we tally the transactions to come up with our rankings, there are invariably deals that smack of a little gamesmanship. In this case, it’s the chorus of advisers for EMC in the storage giant’s purchase of Data Domain. No fewer than eight banks – ranging from bulge brackets to a high-end boutique to even a midmarket firm – are all claiming credit for EMC. (We confirmed, indirectly, with EMC that each of the banks did indeed play a role in the acquisition.)

Meanwhile, on the other side, boutique advisory firm Qatalyst Group took sole credit for working the sell-side for Data Domain. Some observers initially dinged Frank Quattrone’s shop for running such a narrow process. (We understand, for instance, that EMC didn’t see the initial book on Data Domain when NetApp was preparing its bid.) Whether that’s the case or not is largely academic at this point, since the transaction closed a week ago. And it’s largely irrelevant, given where the deal was ultimately done. Data Domain enjoyed the richest price-to-revenue multiple in the sale of a US public company since March 2008.

UPDATE: After initially publishing this piece, Bank of America Merrill Lynch reached out to us to say that they, too, should have a deal credit for advising EMC. For those of you keeping score at home, that brings the total number of advisors for EMC, which was working to land Data Domain for all of two months, to nine separate banks.