Loop Capital Markets Behind Big Clients, Projects
Byline: Kirsten Korosec Medill News Service
If Jim Reynolds had followed the path laid out for him at Chicago Vocational High School, he'd be a radio and TV repairman, not the co-owner of an investment bank with $30 million in annual revenue.
But an encounter with a television set encouraged him to take a different road.
"My mom's TV broke and I tried to fix it," he said. "I opened it up and nothing looked right, it didn't make sense. I found I was a very poor TV repairman."
More than three decades later, Reynolds and partner Albert Grace Jr. own Loop Capital Markets LLC, an investment bank and broker- dealer firm that boasts big clients and big plans. The firm underwrites and trades taxable and tax-exempt securities and provides municipal bond research. It's participated in a number of high-profile projects including acting as a financial adviser in the $1.8 billion privatization of the Chicago Skyway.
In September, Loop Capital added ComEd, a unit of Exelon Corp., to its client list with a $115 million bond issue described as the electric industry's first taxable bond offering managed exclusively by minority-owned firms.
Now Reynolds is focused on expanding the firm in three areas - corporate bond underwriting, mergers and acquisitions, and privatization of municipal assets.
"We think we can double our revenue through these areas," he said. And in two to three years, the firm will look to increase its employment base by as much as 60 percent, Reynolds said. The company, which started with six employees and one office, now employs 80 at eight locations.
"We want to double or triple or quadruple the size of the deals," he said. "We want to do deeper, greater, more meaningful deals."
He said the goal of most public agencies issuing bonds - although not mandated by law - is to award a small portion to minority-owned firms.
"Five minority firms might share 10 percent of a deal and a big firm will handle the other 90 percent," he said. "It's a good thing because it gives you an opportunity, but it's really not enough work to sustain and grow your company."
Anjali Julka, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Labor, said the state's Business Enterprise Program promotes the economic development of business owned by minorities, women and people with disabilities. Illinois state agencies are encouraged to purchase 19 percent of their goods and services from BEP-certified businesses, she said. Loop Capital is a BEP-certified firm.
ComEd CEO Frank Clark said it can be difficult for minority- owned firms to break into the bond business. …