For Chase Manhattan Corp.'s James B. Lee Jr., the crop of commercial and investment banks that have rushed their brand of "one-stop shopping" to the market this year is the sincerest form of flattery.
"The fact that Street firms have gone aggressively into the lending business underscores the power of one-stop shopping," Mr. Lee says. "But our leveraged finance experience and scale gives us certain advantages."
An architect of Chemical Banking Corp.'s powerful loan syndications operation, Mr. Lee was named Chase's investment banking chief shortly after its merger with Chemical was announced last year. Right before that deal closed, Mr. Lee's shop wrapped up financing for Clayton Dubilier & Rice's $1.5 billion buyout of Riverwood International - a quintessential example of the one-stop shopping approach.
It was Chemical that first suggested to Clayton the idea of buying Riverwood, an Atlanta-based paper concern. It then committed $50 million in equity to the deal and provided $1.7 billion in bank financing. Finally, Chemical in March ran the books on a $6 50 million high-yield offering for Riverwood - the largest junk bond issue ever led by a commercial bank. Such a soups-to- nuts approach to finance is now routinely practiced by some of Wall Street's most venerated houses, as well as by some powerful money-center institutions. But the competition, Mr. Lee says, has nothing on the nation's largest bank.
"What distinguishes us is the scale in which we are doing it and the experience we bring to the table," Mr. Lee says. "We execute the largest and most complex transactions."