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CSFB Merger Triggers Exodus

Banking: Defection of Credit Suisse investment bank head and staff solidifies DLJ executive's power base in L.A.


The planned merger between investment banking giants Credit Suisse First Boston and Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Inc. has triggered a major upheaval in CSFB's Los Angeles office.

Mark S. Maron, head of CSFB's investment banking operations for the West Coast, is jumping to rival Lehman Bros., taking a crew of about two dozen CSFB staffers with him.

The defection appears to cement the power base of Ken Moelis, who is head of DLJ's large group of bankers in Los Angeles. As part of CSFB parent Credit Suisse's $11.5-billion purchase of DLJ, the firm named Moelis co-head of investment banking in the Americas.

Maron and another departing CSFB banker, Bob Levitt, will become Lehman's co-heads of banking for its Western region.

"We think combining under the Lehman brand will create a powerful franchise," Maron said.

Other senior CSFB bankers going to Lehman include Robert D. Bertagna and Michael A. Hartmeier. The mass defection will bring the total number of Lehman bankers here to more than 30.

"Together the four of us have more than 40 years with CSFB so this was a difficult decision. We wanted to retain a small-office feel in the midst of a large firm," said Levitt, 43. "Life had changed for us as a result of the DLJ merger. This is [a group of] about 30 people who wanted to remain together."

"We wish them well," said Pen Pendleton, a spokesman for CSFB in New York.

Maron, 44, has 16 years of experience with CSFB, many of them as an investment banker in Los Angeles. Maron is part of a team that put together some of the nation's largest bank mergers, including the $9.9-billion sale of H.F. Ahmanson to Washington Mutual and Wells Fargo's $11.6-billion acquisition of First Interstate.

Levitt headed the Los Angeles office of CSFB from 1992 to 1998. Bertagna, who had been head of West Coast mergers for the firm, recently helped manage the sale of the Learning Co. division of Mattel Inc. to a buyout firm.

"Lehman is one of the most storied names in Wall Street history, and we have a chance to build on that," said Bertagna, who will be head of mergers for Lehman's Western region.

The team will be looking for new office space on the Westside for a headquarters.

Phil Erlanger, Lehman's longtime banker and managing director in Los Angeles, couldn't be reached for comment.

CSFB in Los Angeles had typically made its money working with old-economy-type firms. The firm's San Francisco unit, however, is a powerhouse in financings of technology companies.

Moelis and his crew of 120 bankers in Los Angeles have long been a major force in junk-bond financings, though in recent years the firm also has raised significant capital for tech companies.

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