The era of swashbuckling Wall Street dealmakers is over

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The days of the larger-than-life Wall Street M&A banker are over.

That is according to Steve Lipin, senior partner at public relations firm Brunswick and a former Wall Street Journal reporter.

In a Bloomberg M&A podcast, reporter Alex Sherman asked Lipin if the heyday of M&A has passed.

“God that is depressing. The heyday of M&A hasn’t passed us,” he said.

“Has the heyday of swashbuckling larger-than-life investment bankers passed us? Has Wall Street become more institutional, not allowing these personalities to thrive? I would say that might be true.”

Dealmakers had a year to celebrate in 2015, with activity hitting a record high. But according to Lipin, the people working behind the scenes to make those deals happen are not as colourful as in the early days of the M&A wave in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Dealmakers were writing the rulebook as they went along then, he said.

“There is an institutional pressure from the large firms not to create the large personalities we had say 20 years ago,” he said.

That isn’t to say the M&A game is completely without interesting characters. Many of the more colourful dealmakers on Wall Street – guys like Ken Moelis and brothers Yoel and Michael Zaoui – have left big banks to start their own advisory firms with their names above the door.

And then there are the activists who now hog the headlines.

“The loud personalities now are without question the activists, and they are very adroit users of the press, and they are great at amplifying their message.”

Listen to the podcast here.

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