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Perella Weinberg to Seek Listing Via Blank-Check Firm

Sonali Basak, Gillian Tan and Nabila Ahmed
·3 min read

(Bloomberg) -- One is a grandee of Wall Street dealmaking, the other a scion of Goldman Sachs.

Now Joe Perella and Peter Weinberg are looking to pull off the deal of their lifetimes by taking their investment-banking boutique, Perella Weinberg Partners, public via one of today’s hot tickets in finance: a blank-check company.

Two years after pursuing a traditional initial public offering, only to see those plans upended by a fickle market, Perella Weinberg is now looking to join the stock market by merging with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, according to people familiar with the matter.

A deal, if completed, would cap an at times turbulent 14-year run for the small but influential firm, whose founders have counseled some of the world’s mightiest corporations. It would also be another signpost of the SPAC boom, as more companies choose to avoid the volatility of a traditional IPO by seeking a deal with a shell firm created only to make an acquisition.

Perella Weinberg is in advanced talks with a special purpose acquisition company for a deal that would value it at more than $1 billion, said the people, asking not to be identified because the matter isn’t public. The identity of the SPAC couldn’t immediately be learned. A representative for Perella Weinberg declined to comment.

Senior members of the firm have been recently informed of the potential deal, which could cap a stop-and-start journey to a public company. The firm, founded in 2006, delayed an IPO last year after filing confidentially, people familiar with the matter said at the time. It had already taken steps to prepare for the IPO by naming co-founder Peter Weinberg as chief executive officer and by spinning off asset-management units.

Origin Story

Joe Perella, who had previously founded investment bank Wasserstein Perella, was a top dealmaker at Morgan Stanley before striking out in what he once called a “protest resignation” against that firm’s CEO and strategy. He took a number of his proteges over to found Perella Weinberg Partners, while also recruiting top bankers from rival Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Peter Weinberg had been the CEO of Goldman Sachs’s European business, and had a stint at Morgan Stanley earlier in his career. His family had run Goldman for the better part of its existence, starting with his grandfather Sidney Weinberg beginning as a janitor in the early 1900s and rising to become the head of the firm. His cousin, John S. Weinberg, helped run Goldman Sachs’s investment banking unit before leaving in 2015 and is now the co-CEO of rival investment bank Evercore Inc.

Speculation about a Perella Weinberg IPO has existed since the very year it was founded. At the time, it was expected to follow a listing similar to rival Greenhill & Co. Since then, a number of rivals, including Moelis & Co. and Evercore, have gone public while Perella Weinberg waited.

It’s been a bumpy year for boutique bank stocks as the coronavirus pandemic threatened to derail the global mergers and acquisitions market. Deal volumes have picked up in the third quarter though.

Perella Weinberg has advised on about $15.4 billion in mergers this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, including Liberty Broadband Corp.’s takeover of GCI Liberty Inc. It also has a restructuring business and has helped companies such as Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. raise money to weather the pandemic.

Perella Weinberg has been pursuing a new phase of expansion after elevating new team members, expanding internationally and separating its asset management businesses to focus on dealmaking. It named Andrew Bednar and Dietrich Becker as co-presidents this year.

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