(Adds more background on Tidal in paragraph 7)
By Milana Vinn and Anirban Sen
NEW YORK, Sept 21 (Reuters) - A new mergers and acquisitions advisory firm launched last year by former Centerview Partners dealmakers has scored a big win by advising Cisco Systems on its $28 billion acquisition of cybersecurity firm Splunk.
Based in Palo Alto, California, Tidal Partners was started by technology bankers David Handler and David Neequaye. Their firm, which employs just two dozen people, according to its website, was the sole financial adviser to Cisco, while larger investment banking peers Qatalyst Partners and Morgan Stanley advised Splunk.
While at Centerview, Handler worked closely with Cisco for several years and advised on numerous deals, including Cisco's $5 billion acquisition of NDS Group in 2012 and Cisco's $3.7 billion purchase of AppDynamics in 2017.
"We've known David (Handler) and his partner David (Neequaye) for a very long time. They did a great job for us, and so we've had that relationship for a long time," Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said in an interview on Thursday.
Tidal's win comes as more technology bankers decide to launch their own firms amid an overall slowdown in dealmaking in the sector. Three former Qatalyst Partners bankers launched a new technology-focused investment banking boutique called AXOM Partners earlier this week, Reuters reported.
Handler and Neequaye helped launch Centerview's technology advisory group in 2008. The group went on to advise other major technology companies, including Cisco, Qualcomm Inc and Twilio.
Since its launch last year, Tidal Partners has advised on transactions, including ServiceNow Inc's acquisition of G2K Group and Bloom Energy's $550 million convertible notes offering.
Handler, who previously worked at UBS Group, sued sued Centerview after his departure over a pay dispute.
(Reporting by Milana Vinn and Anirban Sen in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Lisa Shumaker)