Magazine article American Banker

Battle for 1st Interstate Lures Record Crowd - of Advisers

Magazine article American Banker

Battle for 1st Interstate Lures Record Crowd - of Advisers

Article excerpt

The unfolding bidding war over First Interstate Bancorp. is turning into a Wall Street bonanza.

Between Wells Fargo & Co.'s unsolicited bid and First Bank System's white-knight agreement to acquire the Los Angeles-based bank, there are at least five investment banks, five law firms, and two proxy solicitation companies at work.

"For Wells Fargo and First Interstate this is armed combat, trench warfare," said Gary Shedlin, an investment banker with Lazard Freres & Co. "You need to have really deep benches and the best advice you can get."

Like other investment bankers, Mr. Shedlin said the number of players was unsurprising, given the deal's complexity.

Now that First Bank System has emerged as a white-knight suitor for Interstate, the game may be closed to investment bankers who had been advising other banks on potential bids for the Los Angeles bank.

Still, some say the deal has attracted more bankers, lawyers, and consultants than any other bank transaction to date.

NationsBank Corp.'s purchase of C&S/Sovran Corp. in 1991, when the bank employed five investment banks, is seen as the runner-up to the new deal in terms of advisory firepower.

NationsBank had launched a hostile bid for Citizens & Southern, only to be thwarted by a white-knight bid by Sovran Corp. It hired the investment banks to prevent them from helping C&S/Sovran fight the acquisition, said Robert Baer, director of financial institutions mergers and acquisitions at Bear Stearns & Co. …

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