Heads of CBIZ Inc.’s (NYSE: CBZ) investment banking practice have acquired CBIZ’s mergers and acquisitions group and opened a boutique M&A advisory firm called De Nes Partners LLC.

De Nes was started by Doug Hubert (pictured) and Don Schaeffer, who were previously executives at CBIZ. The firm opened on Jan. 1.

The two will focus on advising family and privately-held businesses with revenue between $10 million and $250 million and Ebitda between $3 million and $25 million. “Our niche, if we have one, is most of our clients are first-time sellers, entrepreneurs who have built up companies but who have never been through a transaction before,” says Hubert.

The idea for the Atlanta-based firm came after CBIZ’s investment banking group had independence conflicts with the group’s accounting arm. Before the group could get hired by company clients, CBIZ’s accounting arm had to resign from their engagement.

“Changing auditors just before or during a deal is not a good result,” says Hubert. The relationship between the two business arms basically precluded the investment banking side from a number of opportunities. That, in addition to CBIZ’s decision not to focus on building up the M&A practice, resulted in Hubert and Schaeffer opening De Nes, Hubert says.

The decision to separate and keep a friendly relationship now means the companies can refer clients to one another.

The firm has a partnership with Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, a financial services firm that De Nes expects will provide clients with access to capital markets and other advisory services.

As for dealflow, the De Nes is expecting its first transaction in about two weeks, Hubert says. The firm is also handling carryover work from the acquisition, and picking up a few new assignments.

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