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Centerview Partners has edged out Wall Street giants including Morgan Stanley and Bank of America in deal activity rankings this quarter, taking the highest spot for a boutique advisory firm in decades.

Centerview has rocketed up the closely scrutinised league tables to third place, based on the value of mergers and acquisitions so far this quarter, according to data from Refinitiv.

That is up from 14th place in the same period last year, with the jump attributable to a combination of its work on large deals and expertise in bank rescue deals in the US and Europe.

In total, Centerview advised on 18 deals totalling a value of nearly $94bn this year, the data shows, as it took market share amid a broader slowdown in dealmaking.

Centerview gained prominence this quarter as a go-to adviser for banks facing an emergency. After US regulators took over Silicon Valley Bank following a run on its deposits, Centerview was hired to manage a sale of assets including its investment bank.

When UBS entered into negotiations for an emergency rescue of Credit Suisse, Centerview also played a key role advising Credit Suisse.

The complexity of the banking deals, in which many of the large Wall Street firms were already playing a role or were in some way conflicted, created an opening for smaller operators such as Centerview.

Centerview was also the sole adviser to oncology-focused biotech Seagen on its sale for $43bn to Pfizer, the largest deal of the quarter.

“Independents have always been the smarter option,” said Kenneth M Jacobs, chief executive of Lazard, referring to boutique investment banks. “The agility and the advice-focused model are what clients need in challenging times.” 

Blair Effron and Robert Pruzan, who had both worked as investment bankers, started Centerview in 2006 at a fortuitous moment.

Just a few years later, the financial crisis eliminated several prominent full-service investment banks including Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch.

Some of the surviving firms were hobbled by heavy trading losses, fines and settlements worth billions of dollars, and distracted management.

A handful of independent boutiques, such as Lazard and Rothschild, are firms that were founded over a century ago. Others such as Evercore, Moelis & Co, PJT Partners, LionTree, Robey Warshaw and Zaoui & Co, were set up in recent decades.

In a presentation shared ahead of its 2021 public listing, Perella Weinberg Partners told investors that the market share of independent firms in the M&A fee pool had jumped from 9 per cent in 2005 to 17 per cent in 2019.

Top advisory firms based on deal value
Adviser Value
($mn)
Rank Market
share (%)
No. of
deals
Last-year
rank
JPMorgan 116,558.7 1 21.2 60 3
Goldman Sachs & Co 108,725.0 2 19.8 59 1
Centerview Partners LLC 93,677.8 3 17.0 18 14
BofA Securities Inc 77,691.9 4 14.1 45 4
Morgan Stanley 66,099.2 5 12.0 48 2
Guggenheim Securities LLC 58,819.7 6 10.7 8 64
Lazard 45,123.1 7 8.2 37 9
UBS 43,506.5 8 7.9 42 24
MTS Health Partners LP 42,519.8 9 7.7 2 319
RBC Capital Markets 32,907.5 10 6.0 19 8
First quarter to date
Source: Refinitiv

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