After lying low for most of the year, UBS Securities has retturned to the mergers and acquisitions advisory fray.
UBS served as adviser to Mercantile Bancorp., which announced Monday that it planned to buy Roosevelt Financial Group. UBS also served as adviser on Mercantile's negotiations to buy Mark Twain Bancshares, a deal announced on Oct. 28.
The deals are the first involving UBS since last December. In April 1995 the unit of Union Bank of Switzerland hired Richard Barrett away from Salomon Brothers to head its new M&A group.
After a strong initial showing, including a role advising Fleet Financial Group on its $3.26 billion purchase of National Westminster Bank's U.S. retail banking subsidiary late last year, UBS Securities was absent from the mergers and acquisitions game for most of 1996.
The bank failed to appear on American Banker's list of the top 50 active financial advisers during the first nine months of 1996, after rising to 10th in 1995.
But observers say the deals for Mercantile, which had been a client of Mr. Barrett at Salomon, are likely the first of several involving UBS.
"It's very difficult to convert banks from their traditional services to an aggressive investment bank," said one investment banker who didn't want to be identified. "What he (Mr. Barrett) has done is regenerate a personal contact. You'll probably hear more from him in the future."
Mr. Barrett has regenerated his contacts before for UBS. The bank got involved in the Fleet/Natwest deal in no small part because of a long- standing relationship with Fleet.
While at Salomon he advised Fleet on its $3.7 billion takeover of Shawmut National Corp. in February 1995.
He is said to be close to BankAmerica Corp. and Bank One Corp., two banks that are sometimes rumored to be acquirers.
Montgomery Securities advised Roosevelt Financial on the deal with Mercantile. The firm has been an active player on the M&A scene this year under its director of financial services, onetime banking analyst J. Richard Fredericks.
According to American Banker's survey, Montgomery was the fourth most- active adviser through Sept. 30 of this year.
The San Francisco firm has advised on 10 bank or thrift mergers this year, mainly in the West.
The firm has worked on midwestern mergers in the past, however, notably on the First Chicago Corp/NBD Corp. deal a year ago.