Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM) has agreed to buy Griffis & Small, an energy advisory firm in Houston.

The firm's engineers and geologists provide technical advice to exploration and production companies and private-equity firms, and represent them in the sale of assets in the United States.

CIBC, based in Toronto, has indicated that it would look for low-risk opportunities for growth, especially in the U.S., by buying niche businesses rather than entire banks. Earlier this month CIBC said it had agreed to buy MFS McLean Budden's private-wealth business. Last year CIBC bought a 41% stake in American Century Investments, a Kansas City, Mo., asset management firm, for $848 million.

The financial terms of the Griffis & Small deal, which should be completed in the fourth quarter, were not disclosed.

The deal will "create opportunities to serve new and existing wholesale banking clients in the U.S.," CIBC said Thursday in a news release. Griffis & Small would complement CIBC's energy-focused operations in Calgary, the United Kingdom and Asia, CIBC said.

The target's founding partners, Richard Griffis and Joe Small, would join CIBC as part of the deal and continue to run the business.

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