In the late 1990s, Bill Contente and Elizabeth Myers sat a
couple of cubicles from each other in the Manhattan offices of
J.P. Morgan & Co., where last summer they were named
co-heads of equity capital markets for the Americas. The
investment bank wasnt the biggest ECM player in those
days, but for the two friends that spelled opportunity. Both
stayed with J.P. Morgan, which was scraping together market
share. Myers, 40, whod taken a break to get an MBA from
Harvard University, worked as an analyst and then an associate
at the firm, eventually settling into finance. There were
some sectors that people perceived as hot, the Detroit
native says, and finance wasnt one of them. By her
mid-30s, Myers led the financial institutions team.
After graduating from Yale University with an economics
degree in 1991, Contente joined J.P. Morgan and hit the road,
working on M&A deals and IPOs in Latin America and Europe
as well as on the West Coast. He spent some time in New York in
the late 90s before moving back permanently in 2000, the
year his firm became JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Under CEO Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan used the financial crisis to
grow from an also-ran to a dominant force in equity capital
markets. In 2008, Contente was busy with Visas $19.65
billion offering, the largest IPO at that time, when capital
markets began to unravel. We priced it two days after
JPMorgan acquired Bear Stearns, he says of the Visa
offering, which was still a roaring success. In November 2008 a
deal coordinated by JPMorgan for Wells Fargo & Co. was
increased to $12.6 billion, making it the richest non-IPO
offering in U.S. history. That came during the biggest two-day
drop in U.S. equity markets since 1987. Late-inning home runs
like those helped JPMorgan reach No. 2 in global equity and
equity-linked issuances for 2008, with $59.5 billion in deal
value, according to Dealogic.
The crisis devastated IPOs, plunging U.S. value to
$17 billion in 2009 from $60 billion two years earlier.
But the ECM team at JPMorgan pulled through, as Myerss
out-of-fashion financial sector returned to the limelight,
pushing the bank to the top of the equity league tables for the
year with $94.4 billion worth of global equity deals, compared
with $76.5 billion for second-place Goldman Sachs Group.