Talk about hitting the ground running. UBS Securities' new financial institutions group wasted little time making its mark - not to mention justifying its multimillion-dollar salaries.

Just two weeks after defecting from Salomon Brothers, the group reeled in a huge deal: advising West One Bancorp in its merger with U.S. Bancorp. The $1.6 billion sale to the Oregon banking giant was announced Monday.

"We have taken the first small step," said Richard Barrett, a former top Salomon executive who is now managing director of UBS' financial institutions group. "But there are more deals in the pipeline."

UBS' representation of West One may quickly put to rest questions on whether the new group could carry over their strong banking relationships from Salomon.

Indeed, the deal appears to have come to UBS because of strong ties between Mr. Barrett and chief executives Daniel R. Nelson of West One and Gerry B. Cameron of U.S. Bancorp.

Mr. Barrett and colleagues Gerard Smith, Alan Ginsberg, and Brenda White left Salomon in late April after the firm instituted a controversial compensation plan.

Lured by reportedly multimillion-dollar salaries, the four agreed to start a financial institutions group at UBS, a unit of Union Bank of Switzerland.

At the time, observers pointed out that investment bankers often lose momentum when switching firms. And Salomon Brothers argued that its clients were attracted to the firm's institutional prowess as much as by personal contacts.

Clearly, however, West One did not agree and chose to stick with the individuals rather than the firm.

By inking the deal, the UBS team was able to reward its new employer by pushing through a merger that had been rumored for years.

UBS would not comment on the fee it received. Based on the industry's 1994 average fee of roughly 0.49% of total deal value, the West One transaction would have netted UBS $7.8 million. Large deals often bring greater fees, so the figure could be higher.

Mr. Barrett predicted the deal would lead to more bank transactions.

"It is very clear that every time there is a major transaction, it has some effect on other people who may be close to making a decision on a merger," he said.

And on whether West One chose to hook up with U.S. Bancorp, a takeover candidate itself, to gain the "double dip" - when an acquiring company is eventually acquired itself - Mr. Barrett conceded that it was a factor.

"Shareholder advocacy is intense enough that people have to do what is right for shareholders," he said. Describing U.S. Bancorp as shareholder friendly, Mr. Barrett added that any bank wishing to compete in the Northwest would have to face U.S. Bancorp, or "include the company in its plans."

CS First Boston, the investment banking arm of another Swiss financial company, CS Holdings, represented U.S. Bancorp.

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