This boutique bank just wrestled another monster deal away from the big boys

Blair Effron, Centerview Partners
Blair Effron, Centerview Partners Bloomberg

Centerview Partners is advising Johnson Controls on a spin-off that could be worth $US20 billion.

Once again, it’s an example of a small boutique bank elbowing way bigger competitors aside and laying claim to a mandate that used to belong to a larger adviser.

This time, the boutique bank is Centerview. It’s advising Johnson Controls, a diversified technology company that’s sharpening its focus on things like batteries and continuing to dump assets in its automotive segment. Johnson Controls has already sold off assets like its garage-door-opener unit and its sun visor product line.

As recently as last year, Johnson Controls was using Bank of America Merrill Lynch as its advisor. But when it announced plans to effectively split its automotive segment off from the rest of its business, the company created an opportunity for a bank to claim a mandate on a sale that could be worth nearly $US20 billion.

For Centerview Partners and Goldman Sachs it potentially means splitting up fees worth more than $US100 million in the event of a sale — less, if it’s an IPO.

Although first-half numbers have yet to be tallied, it looks like Centerview Partners will claim the top spot on banking league tables of all boutiques. In the wake of the financial crisis, smaller banks have been claiming a bigger share of M&A on Wall Street.

Centerview has claimed mandates on transactions including General Electric’s $US26.5 billion real estate sale and the now-scuttled Time Warner Cable-Comcast deal.

Right now dealmaking is back at peak levels not seen since 2007. For boutiques Centerview, PJT Partners and Liontree it means an opportunity to leap up league tables.

The bank did not respond to a request for comment.

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