The San Francisco merchant bank Thomas Weisel Partners LLC said Thursday that it had lured two senior investment bankers from rival firms, including a 12-year veteran of Hambrecht & Quist Group.
Mark Shafir, the head of global technology investment banking at Merrill Lynch & Co. in San Francisco, was named a partner at Weisel Partners, and is co-director of the firm's investment banking and mergers and acquisition practices. He started in his new position Thursday.
Mr. Shafir follows Jamie Streator, one of the co-heads of health-care investment banking at Chase H&Q, who was made a partner and director of health-care banking at Weisel Partners on Jan. 25.
Weisel Partners plans to do much more hiring in the coming months. The firm expects to create another 100 positions by the end of the quarter, about 25 of them in investment banking, said J. Sanford Miller, chief administrative and strategic officer.
The firm's snaring of Mr. Streator was the first defection of a senior-level banker from Hambrecht & Quist, the technology and emerging-growth specialist bought by Chase Manhattan Corp. late last year to fill out its equities functions.
Chase has said it would allocate $200 million to a retention plan aimed at stemming departures, but that has not quashed speculation on Wall Street that a clash of corporate cultures could lead to an exodus similar to the one that occurred at Montgomery Securities early last year.
After Thomas Weisel, the chief executive of Montgomery, left that firm he founded Weisel Partners. Close to 100 Montgomery staff members joined his firm early last year. The investment bank has quickly expanded to 450 people with offices in San Francisco, New York, Boston, and London.
This growth has been aided by investments, such as $100 million from the California Public Employees' Retirement System in January. But the expansion will be funded by its operating profits, rather than that capital increase, said Mr. Miller. At the end of the fourth quarter, the firm reported $97 million in revenue.
The departure of Mr. Streator, who split responsibility for the Chase H&Q health-care practice with managing director Dennis Purcell, occurs in one of the only areas where both Chase and Hambrecht & Quist had capabilities. Chase's own mergers and acquisition practice, under co-head Douglas Braunstein, won a high-profile health-care mandate, advising American Home Products' planned - and now apparently failed - merger with Warner-Lambert.
Including the business of Hambrecht & Quist in 1999, Chase was the six-largest advisor on health-care mergers and acquisitions, with 19 deals worth $80 billion last year.
Mr. Streator said Weisel Partners will be adding increased research coverage and analysts, particularly to cover biotechnology, medical devices, and pharmaceutical companies.
Mr. Miller, one of the founding partners Weisel Partners and the former head of the technology group at Montgomery, acknowledges that the tight market for investment bankers - many of whom have been drawn by the rags-to-riches world of Internet start-ups -should pose a challenge to the first-quarter hiring initiatives.