Centerview Partners Takes Spotlight

By Platt, Gordon | Global Finance, March 2007 | Go to article overview

Centerview Partners Takes Spotlight


Platt, Gordon, Global Finance


Centerview Partners, an advisory boutique formed last July by three prominent Wall Street investment bankers, was the number-two M&A adviser in the Americas in January, according to Thomson Financial.

Stephen Crawford, formerly co-president of Morgan Stanley-Joined Blair Effron, former vice chairman of UBS, and Robert Pruzan, former chief executive of Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein North America, in launching Centerview Partners, which is based in New York.

"We believe there is a large and growing opportunity for a privately owned advisory firm focused externally on corporate clients," Crawford said at the time. The three founding principals had worked on many of the biggest and most complex transactions, including Procter & Gamble's $57 billion acquisition of Gillette, Bank America's $49 billion acquisition of Fleet and Kraft Foods' $19 billion acquisition of Nabisco.

Thus, it shouldn't have come as much of a surprise that Centerview Partners was selected along with Lehman Brothers to advise Kraft Foods in January on its planned spin-oft by Altria to shareholders of Altria, which owns tobacco companies Philip Morris USA and Philip Morris International.

Altria said the separation would enhance Kraft's ability to make acquisitions, including by using Kraft's stock as an acquisition currency, to compete more effectively in the food industry. Altria said the spin-off also would allow management of Altria and Kraft to focus more effectively on their respective businesses and improve Kraft's ability to recruit and retain management and independent directors.

Another benefit of the separation is that it would provide greater aggregate debt capacity to both Altria and Kraft, the companies said.

The distribution of the approximately 89% of Kraft's outstanding shares owned by Altria will be made on March 30. …

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