Craig A. Wolfanger was definitely taking a chance.
After working at and leading a number of international and regional investment banks, Wolfanger decided, along with several colleagues, to start an independent boutique investment banking firm in Pittsburgh. The decision to start the firm, Raptor Partners LLC, was a risky proposition because Wolfanger would no longer have the security of a larger firm. In addition, several long-standing clients would be forced to choose whether to follow Wolfanger to his new firm or switch to the large, bulge-bracket New York investment banks that had been soliciting their business over the year.
Wolfanger had the confidence that his reputation and client relationships would lead customers to follow him.
Following the formation of the company, nearly all of his former clients continued to do business with him at the new firm. Wolfanger has led the company to grow more than 25 percent per year over the past three years.
Raptor Partners’ approach is to have senior advisers involved from start to finish in an engagement, which differentiates the company from its larger competitors.
Several years ago, Wolfanger recognized many of the real and perceived conflicts of interest that existed within large, multinational financial services “supermarkets.” Different motivations for profits among the various departments within the large financial services firms, including research, trading, investment banking, auditing, tax advisory, private equity and asset management services can lead to situations where the advice clients receive may not be completely independent.
These conflicts of interest were a prime reason why Wolfanger set out to start a truly independent firm where his clients’ interests were his only focus.
Wolfanger decided to pursue his vision and start a firm that has been instrumental in helping many firms from Pittsburgh and elsewhere grow and prosper through obtaining financing or completing mergers and acquisitions.
The firm has acted as a financial adviser to many of the highest profile merger and acquisition transactions in the area over the past couple of years, including the acquisition of Respironics by Philips Electronics and the acquisition of Kennywood Entertainment by Parques Reunidos.
In fact, a significant portion of Raptor Partners’ business is providing merger and acquisition adviser services to corporate clients. When the four owners of H.B. Maynard and Co. Inc. decided to look for an investment banker to help deal with inquiries about the business, they networked to find options. They had been approached by several large and sophisticated buyers, and they needed someone with experience and a good track record to level the playing field. Wolfanger’s name was mentioned to them twice as often as other names and in a very positive light. As the four researched and interviewed other firms to help them, it became obvious Wolfanger had the best combination of experience, knowledge, professionalism and temperament.
When H.B. Maynard and Co. Inc. reached a point that continued growth of the business would require significantly increased investment, while the majority of its net worth was already in the business, it decided to look for an acquisition partner. The company wanted a partner that could continue to grow the H.B Maynard name, build upon its Pittsburgh employee base and monetize years of hard work building the business. Raptor Partners was there every step of the way, working with H.B. Maynard for more than a year on an emotional and difficult roller-coaster ride. Several of the early interested parties passed on the opportunity to buy the business as their strategies changed. Convincing multinational firms to look at the business proved too complicated. After months of management meetings with potential buyers, due diligence and marketing, the four finally selected the $25 billion global consulting firm Accenture to move into exclusive discussions. The process had been exhausting up to that point and now they needed to negotiate the details of the firm’s sale.
That’s where Raptor really stepped up and not only leveled the playing field but also tilted it in H.B. Maynard’s favor. On several occasions, when Wolfanger felt H.B. Maynard was getting a bad deal, he threatened to cancel the transaction, jeopardizing his own fee for his client’s best interests. In the end, his efforts led to a successful transaction on H.B. Maynard’s behalf.
Raptor Partners and Wolfanger’s expertise provide regional businesses and owners with sophisticated investment banking services on par with major New York financial services firms. He has helped his company grow, and at the same time, he has helped many successful local entrepreneurs and investors realize the value of their investments in markets that aren’t very liquid.
How to reach: Raptor Partners LLC, (412) 281-5151 or www.raptorpartners.com