Bowles Hollowell Connor & Co., the Charlotte, N.C., merger-and- acquisition shop that First Union Corp. agreed to buy this week, specializes in a sector increasingly coveted by the largest banks in the nation-private equity and leveraged buyout groups.

The firm has represented more than 75 different private equity groups in at least one transaction during the last five years, according to Bowles Hollowell executives. Indeed, the skyrocketing LBO market has made this the biggest segment of Bowles' business in recent years.

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