Bankers clean up as Evercore pays $63m for 'boutique' adviser

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The Independent Online

Two bankers shared $63m (£32m) yesterday after the boutique investment bank they set up in March was bought by America's Evercore Partners.

Braveheart Financial Services was founded by Bernard Taylor and Julian Oakley - its sole shareholders - and employs just 10 people, although it expects to have 20 to 30 bankers in place by the end of the current hiring season.

The deal is evidence of the mounting interest in London's growing band of small "boutique" City advisory firms set up by refugees from big firms.

They have become increasingly popular among executives at British companies because they provide high-level one-to-one advice on deals or financing but lack the conflicts of interest that plague the Wall Street giants, which dominate the City of London.

Mr Taylor and Mr Oakley both worked at JP Morgan before setting up their Braveheart firm. The former was a vice-chairman at the US company while the latter was a managing director of JP Morgan Cazenove.

Mr Taylor, 50, had previously run Flemings' investment bank, and handled the firm's sale to Chase Manhattan in 2000 for £4.9bn. Chase subsequently merged with JP Morgan.

The example of Mr Taylor and Mr Oakley may prompt the creation of a flood of copycat firms, particularly given that lock-ins tying bankers to Cazenove are thought to expire next year.

A number of bankers have already taken the plunge, leaving high-profile jobs at big companies to join boutiques in the hope of making millions and avoiding the internecine politics and turf wars that characterise life at the City's bulge-bracket firms.

Perhaps the biggest of them all is Perella Weinberg, which was set up by the legendary dealmaker Joe Perella, who hired a string of high-profile names and raised more than $1bn from 11 investors to start his new operation.

Mr Taylor said: "Where I was at Flemings, we have unbiased advice and put the client first.

"You find at smaller organisations that the top people are much more involved with work at the coalface. I prefer doing business in the simpler environment of a smaller organisation."

Braveheart will now be known as Evercore UK while Mr Taylor and Mr Oakley will become senior managing directors of Evercore, and Mr Taylor will also become a co-vice-chairman of Evercore.

Evercore joined the New York Stock Exchange in August, but is still considered a boutique in comparison with full-service "bulge bracket" firms such as JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs or Citigroup.