KPMG, Houlihan Lokey, Goldman Sachs, William Blair and Lincoln International rank as the top five most active M&A investment banks in 2018, based on the volume of completed private equity-backed deals, according to PitchBook. Here are Mergers & Acquisitions' profiles of the 28 firms that led the league tables in a robust year for dealmaking.
Related: M&A soared in 2018; companies confident about dealmaking in 2019.
1. KPMG (115 completed deals)
KPMG is an advisory firm that offers tax, audit and advisory services. The firm was formed in 1987 through the merger of Peat Marwick International and Klynveld Main Goerdeler. KPMG, which U.S. headquarters are in New York, has more than 200,000 employees in 154 countries. Among the industries that KPMG focuses on are: financial services, oil and gas, real estate and construction, power and utilities and metals and mining. In 2018, KPMG bought cybersecurity firm Cyberinc.
2. Houlihan Lokey (95)
Houlihan Lokey Inc. (NYSE: HLI) is an investment bank that offers M&A, capital markets, financial restructuring, valuation and strategic consulting services. In 2018, Los Angeles-based Houlihan Lokey acquired BearTooth Advisors, a firm that provides strategic advisory and placement agency services to alternative investment managers. In that same year, the firm formed HL Finance LLC to arrange senior secured leveraged loans for financial sponsor-backed, privately-held, and public corporate entities. Investment firm HPS Investment Partners is HL Finance's initial strategic investor and will provide underwriting commitments of up to $1 billion.
3. Goldman Sachs (88)
Goldman Sachs Group (NYSE: GS) is an investment and investment management firm that offers a range of services including: M&A and investment banking, consumer banking, asset management, private wealth management, direct private investing and middle market financing and investing. Goldman Sachs, through its special situations group, lends and invests up to $150 million directly to mid-sized companies. The special situations group provides lending, mezzanine and growth capital to mid-market businesses in the U.S. and in Europe. The New York-based firm was founded in 1869.
4. William Blair (87)
William Blair is global boutique with expertise in investment banking, investment management, and private wealth management. The employee-owned firm was founded in 1935 by William McCormick Blair, and has 1,500 employees worldwide. William Blair's investment banking group offers comprehensive buyside and sellside services for publicly traded and privately held companies. Since 2014, the firm has completed about 550 M&A transactions representing more than $190 billion in value (as of December 31, 2018).
5. Lincoln International (80)
Lincoln International is a middle-market investment bank that provides M&A, growth equity, debt advisory, restructuring, joint ventures and valuation services. The firm was founded in 1996, and has more than 500 employees across 20 offices in 15 countries. Among the sectors that Lincoln focuses on are: business services, consumer, energy, healthcare, industrials and technology media and telecom. Lincoln, headquartered in Chicago, advised on over 200 deals globally in 2018. Almost half of the firm’s transactions are cross-border.
6. Robert W. Baird (70)
Baird is an employee-owned investment bank, private equity firm, and wealth management firm. The Milwaukee-based firm was founded in 1919, and has about 3,500 employees. As of Sept. 30, 2018, Baird has about $217 billion in assets. Baird’s PE arm, Baird Capital, invests in businesses that have up to $150 million in revenue across the healthcare, industrials and technology sectors. Baird Capital has invested in more than 300 companies since it was founded in 1989.
7. Raymond James Financial (67)
Raymond James Financial Inc. (NYSE: RJF) is a financial services that provides investment bank and wealth management services. The firm, based in St. Petersburg, Florida, was founded in 1962 by Bob James, and went public 1983. Raymond James focuses on the consumer and retail, financial services, healthcare and industrial sectors, among others. Earlier in 2019, Raymond James reached a deal to acquire Silver Lane Advisors, an investment bank that focuses in the financial services sector. The deal will expand Raymond James’ services in the wealth management industry.
8. Harris Williams (65)
Harris Williams is a middle-market investment that focuses on sell-side transactions. The Richmond, Virginia-based firm concentrates on the aerospace and defense, consumer, healthcare, industrials and transportation and logistics sectors, among others. Harris Williams, founded in 1991, completed 87 transactions in 2018, the most in firm history, and up more than 22 percent from just two years prior. The firm’s 2018 aggregate sell-side transaction value of more than $31 billion topped the year prior by more than 28 percent and exceeded 2016’s total aggregate transaction value by more than 50 percent.
9. Lazard (60)
Lazard Ltd. (NYSE: LAZ) is a middle-market financial advisory and asset management firm. Lazard’s roots date back to 1848 when the company began as a dry goods business. It got involved in banking in 1850. On the M&A side, New York-based Lazard focuses on the business services, consumer, financial services, healthcare, industrials and technology media and telecom sectors. As of Dec. 31, 2018, Lazard Asset Management has $215 million in assets.
10. Morgan Stanley (58)
Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is a financial services firm that provides investment banking, wealth management, sales and trading and research services. The New York-based firm also owns a middle-market private equity firm called Morgan Stanley Capital Partners. The latter invests in businesses that are valued up to $500 million. Morgan Stanley investment management has about $471 billion in assets as of Sept. 30, 2018. Earlier in 2019, Morgan Stanley announced plans to buy Solium Capital Inc., a provider of software-as-a-service for equity administration, financial reporting and compliance.
11. Evercore (55)
Evercore Inc. (NYSE: EVR) offers capital markets advisory, research, sales and trading, along with wealth management services. The New York-based firm was founded in 1995 by former Lehman Brothers and Blackstone Group (NYSE: BX) executive Roger Altman. Evercore has about 1,700 employees in 10 countries, and has advised on more than $2 trillion worth of deals since its inception. In middle market M&A, Evercore recently advised Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas on its $300 million sale to InterContinental Hotels Group, and AppRiver on its $275 million sale to Zix Corp. (Nasdaq: ZIXI).
12. Credit Suisse (52)
Credit Suisse provides investment banking and wealth management services. The Zurich-based firm, founded in 1856, has 46,840 employees and operations in about 50 countries. The firm’s investment banking division concentrates on the energy, financial services, healthcare, real estate, retail and technology, media and telecom sectors. Credit Suisse is advising Merck (NYSE: MRK) on its $300 million acquisition for immunotherapy research company Immune Design (Nasdaq: IMDZ). Earlier in 2019, Credit Suisse’s venture capital arm, Credit Suisse Entrepreneur Capital Ltd., announced plans to invest in robotics startup Perspective Robotics.
13. Piper Jaffray (49)
Piper Jaffray Cos. (NYSE: PJC) is a middle-market investment bank based in Minneapolis. The firmcovers a broad segment of the market including: business services, consumer and retail, energy, financial services, healthcare, industrials and technology. In addition to M&A and a broad array of capital market products, Piper Jaffray also provides merchant asset management, equity sales and trading, equity research and merchant banking services. Piper Jaffray was founded in 1895, and has 1,300 employees across 58 offices. The firm completed 170 advisory transactions in 2018 with an aggregate transaction value of $28.9 billion. Earlier in 2019, Piper Jaffray announced plans to buy Weeden & Co., a provider of trading technology services, for up to about $74 million.
14. GCA Advisors (46)
GCA is an investment bank that provides M&A, capital markets and private funds advisory services to growth companies. The New York-based firm closed 145 transactions in 2018, concentrating on the consumer and retail, digital media, financial technology, healthcare, industrials and technology sectors. GCA has more than 400 employees in 20 offices across the U.S., Asia and Europe. GCA recently advised learning platform company Studydrive on its acquisition by StepStone.
15. Moelis 42)
Moelis & Co. (NYSE: MC) is an investment bank that provides M&A, recapitalization, restructuring and capital markets advisory services. The firm has 19 offices across North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. Moelis was founded in 2007 by Ken Moelis, and has advised on more than $2.3 trillion worth of deals since its inception. In mid-market M&A, Moelis is advising Nexeo Solutions on its $640 million sale of its plastics distribution business to One Rock Capital Partners.
16. Bank of America (41)
Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) is a financial services firm that serves both commercial and consumer clients with banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products to small and mid-sized businesses and large corporations. Bank of America also offers M&A and investment banking services, along with equity research. Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America is advising Apax and AssuredPartners on the sale of the majority stake in AssuredPartners to GTCR.
16. J.P. Morgan (41)
J.P. Morgan (NYSE: JPM) is a financial advisory firm that offers a number of services including: investment banking and M&A, asset management, equity research and trading, and commercial and private banking. J.P. Morgan, led by CEO Jamie Dimon, acquired Bear Stearns during the 2008 financial crisis. The firm’s roots date back to 1799, and evolved into J.P. Morgan in 1871 when J. Pierpont Morgan and Anthony Drexel formed a merchant banking partnership called Drexel, Morgan & Co. In mid-market deals, New York-based J.P. Morgan is advising Attunity on its $560 million sale to Qlik.
18. Jefferies Group (33)
Jefferies is a diversified financial services company that is involved in investment banking and capital markets, asset management and direct investing. On the M&A side, Jefferies completed more than 530 transactions valued over $435 billion since 2016. The majority of those deals were sell-side and involved strategic buyers. Jefferies is advising Compass Group Diversified Holdings (NYSE: CODI) and Manitoba Harvest on the sale of the latter to Tilray Inc. (Nasdaq: TLRY). Earlier in 2019, New York-based Jefferies proposed to buy the near 30 percent stake it does not already own in real estate developer HomeFed Corp.
18. Livingstone (33)
Livingstone Partners is a middle-market M&A and debt advisory firm that has offices in Chicago, Los Angeles and across Europe. The firm, founded in 2007, completed about $11 billion worth of deals between 2016 and 2018, focusing on the businesses services, consumer, healthcare, industrials and media and technology sectors. In 2018, Livingstone advised behavior analysis provider Total Spectrum on its sale to LLR Partners-backed Learn Behavioral, and advised PE Dental Group on its partnership with Gryphon Investors-backed Smile Brands.
20. RBC Capital Markets (32)
RBC is an investment bank and a diversified provider of financial services. The Toronto-based firm, founded in 1864, offers M&A, lending and fixed income services. Between Nov. 1, 2017 and Oct. 31, 2018, RBC advised on 149 M&A transactions worth $186 billion, according to Dealogic. RBC has 7,300 employees in 70 offices in 15 countries. RBC is part of Royal Bank of Canada.
21. KeyBanc (28)
KeyBanc Capital Markets, a subsidiary of Cleveland-based KeyCorp. (NYSE: KEY), is a middle-market investment bank. In addition to M&A, KeyBanc offers divestitures, tender offers, joint ventures, strategic alliances, takeover defense, recapitalizations and restructuring services. The firm concentrates on the consumer and retail, healthcare, industrials, oil and gas, technology and the utilities and power sectors. In 2018, KeyBanc completed 94 M&A transactions representing $17 billion in deal value. In 2017, KeyBanc acquired Cain Brothers, which is number 23 on this list with 22 deals.
22. Stifel (27)
Stifel Financial Corp. (NYSE: SF) is a diversified wealth management and investment banking company that was founded in 1890. The firm’s middle-market investment banking division focuses on the consumer and retail, healthcare, gaming and leisure, real estate and technology sectors. The firm has closed 1,683 transactions valued at $392 billion since 2000. St. Louis-based Stifel owns Eaton Partners, Keefe, Bruyette & Woods and Miller Buckfire. Earlier in 2019, Stifel advised NRI on its sale to Wind Point Partners.
23. Cain Brothers (22)
Cain Brothers & Co. announced 40 M&A transactions in 2018 with a total transaction of $9 billion. The firm focuses on the healthcare services, life sciences and medical technology. In addition to M&A advisory, Cain offers financing services to corporate and not-for-profit healthcare organizations, including bond underwriting and leveraged lending. New York-based Cain was acquired by KeyBanc Capital Markets in 2017, which is number 21 on this list with 28 deals.
24. Capstone Headwaters (21)
Capstone Headwaters is a middle-market investment bank that has 150 employees across 20 offices in the U.S., Brazil and Europe. The firm offers M&A, corporate restructuring, debt advisory, private equity coverage and has an industry research team. Among the industries Capstone focuses on: aerospace and defense, agriculture and farming, building products, business services, consumer and retail and transportation and logistics. Capstone, which is located in Boston and Denver, acquired Morgan Stanley’s (NYSE: MS) middle market business in 2010 and Headwaters MB in 2017. Earlier in 2019, Capstone advised Andrie LLC on its acquisition by Auxo Investment Partners.
25. Benchmark International (19)
Benchmark International is a middle-market investment bank that advises companies that are valued up to $500 million. The Tampa, Florida based firm, founded in 2012, provides M&A, growth and exit planning services. Benchmark concentrates on the manufacturing, services and retails sectors, among others, with deals that are value at around $100 million. The firm has 13 offices globally. Earlier in 2019, Benchmark advised government services company Amtis Inc. on its acquisition by Blackfish Federal LLC.
25. Dinan (19)
Dinan & Co. is a middle-market investment bank that provides M&A, valuation and fairness opinions and merchant banking advisory services. The firms advises private equity firms and Fortune 1000 companies. Since it was founded in 1988, Phoenix-based Dinan, which has around 80 professionals, has closed over 600 transactions representing more than $50 billion in deal value, with an average deal size of $65 million. Dinan concentrates on the aerospace and defense, business services, consumer and food and beverage, energy, healthcare and logistics sectors, among others.
25. Macquarie Group (19)
Macquarie Group is a financial services firm that offers M&A advisory, capital raising, project finance, private capital markets and investment services. The Sydney-based firm also offers asset financing in the aerospace, energy, healthcare, industrials, manufacturing, rail and mining and technology sectors, along with corporate financing. In 2018, Macquarie sold Advantage Funding Management, a provider of commercial vehicle and transportation financing services, to Sterling Bancorp. (NYSE: STL).
25. Petsky Prunier (19)
Petsky Prunier is a middle-market investment bank that offers M&A, capital markets and private placement services. New York-based Petsky Prunier was founded in 1999, and focuses on the technology, media, marketing, information and services and healthcare sectors. Petsky Prunier also owns strategic consulting firm Winterberry Group. The firm advised on more than 30 deals in 2018. Earlier in 2019, Petsky Prunier was acquired by Canaccord Genuity Group Inc.