After flashy hires and a big buildout, Perella Weinberg’s media and telecom team has been gutted. We tracked the bankers who are out — and what it says about the landscape for blockbuster M&A deals.

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As it was ramping up its dealmaking platform in 2015, Perella Weinberg Partners poached star banker Woody Young, a chief adviser to AT&T, to build out a media and telecom practice.
The new group got off to an explosive start in 2016, landing one of the largest mergers in history — AT&T’s $100 billion deal for Time Warner.
But since then, deals have been scarce for Perella’s media and telecom team, and the group has been gutted by departures in 2020. Young remains at Perella and has added the role of chairman of M&A.
Most of the experienced media and telecom bankers that joined since his arrival have been laid off, quietly asked to leave, or departed for other firms, sources said.
Boutique banks have had to grapple with a downturn in M&A work that’s overshadowed a jump in restructuring and debt advisory activity.
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In 2015, as independent investment bank Perella Weinberg Partners was ramping up its footprint, the firm hired star telecommunications dealmaker George “Woody” Young from Lazard to build out a US telecoms practice for the firm. It was a high-profile, headline-grabbing appointment.

“We are delighted to expand our TMT practice with the addition of one of the most experienced bankers in this sector,” Peter Weinberg, the firm’s cofounder and CEO, said in a note announcing the hire. “The telecom and media industries represent a significant portion of global M&A activity, year in and year out, and we look forward to leveraging Woody’s expertise and experience to provide strategic advice to clients.”

Young started in 2016, and it seemed at first a propitious move for Perella, especially after the veteran banker that October orchestrated the landmark $100 billion merger of AT&T and Time Warner.

But since then, media and telecom deals at the boutique have been scarce. For a group focused on chasing megadeals with bumper fees, just a smattering of small transactions have crossed the wire, and the group has struggled commercially, according to conversations with more than half a dozen sources familiar with the firm, including industry consultants as well as current and former employees.

The only other multi-billion-dollar deal since Young’s arrival in the TMT group was PayPal’s $4 billion acquisition of shopping and rewards platform Honey Science last November, according to data from Refinitiv. And that deal was shepherded not by Young, but by San Francisco technology partner Stefan Green.

Perella, which two years ago had hired bankers to explore an initial public offering, this month began laying off dozens of bankers globally. Following a company-wide review by co-presidents Dietrich Becker and Andrew Bednar, who were promoted in March, the firm decided recalibrate its focus on core areas and larger clients and dial back resources elsewhere.

The firm is laying off roughly 50 bankers as part of the process, or 8% of its staff. That comes as boutique firms in general have had to grapple with a downturn in M&A work that’s outweighed a …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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