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Deloitte buying McColl Partners

Retired BofA chiefwill be senior adviser

By Rick Rothacker
rrothacker@charlotteobserver.com

Hugh McColl Jr. is best known for buying banks. Now he’s selling one.

A Deloitte subsidiary on Monday said it had bought Charlotte investment bank McColl Partners, the advisory firm founded in 2001 by the retired CEO who helped build Bank of America into a national giant through his dealmaking in the 1980s and 1990s. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

The Observer reported last month that McColl Partners was in talks to be sold to Deloitte, one of the Big Four professional services firms that provides clients with audit, financial advisory, tax and consulting services. McColl Partners advises midsized companies on mergers, acquisitions and other transactions.

“It was an opportunity for everyone to be engaged in something larger than we have,” McColl told the Observer on Monday. “We started with nothing, and we built a very significant business. They will continue to have a bright future.”

McColl, who turns 78 next week, acknowledged it was different being a seller rather than a buyer, although he noted he has experience selling companies through the private equity firm he co-founded, Falfurrias Capital Partners. He said he wasn’t heavily involved in the negotiations with Deloitte.

Along with six partners, McColl launched the eponymous firm 12 years ago after retiring from Bank of America. He will work with Deloitte as a senior strategic adviser.

“First and foremost, my business loyalty will always be to the Bank of America,” McColl said. “I don’t think I will come into conflict. I’ll give advice on things I’m asked about.”

A team of about 70 professionals from McColl Partners has already joined Deloitte Corporate Finance, a subsidiary of Deloitte Financial Advisory Services. The deal doubled the number of senior bankers in the practice to 25.

McColl Partners co-founder Dave Vorhoff said all of the firm’s senior managing directors will take leadership roles in the combined operation. “It’s an opportunity for our team to hit at a whole new level,” he said.

Kevan Flanigan, national managing director of Deloitte Corporate Finance LLC since 2010, will continue to lead the combined practice.

While professional services firms are not widely known for investment banking, Deloitte isn’t unusual in offering these services, said David Williams, chief executive of Deloitte Financial Advisory Services. Deloitte has been building its practice through acquisitions and hiring, he said.

The McColl Partners purchase provides Deloitte with bankers in new locations, such as Charlotte, and brings additional services and expertise, Williams said.

In recent years, Charlotte has become a hub for boutique investment banks, often started by bankers who worked at one of the city’s big banks. The firms largely help private businesses value their companies and find buyers.

In 2007, Charlotte-based Edgeview Partners was acquired by finance company CIT Group Inc., but partners bought back the firm in 2010 and it became independent again.

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