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.
JPMorgan has handled 35 bank recapitalization offerings,
becoming a specialist in Troubled Asset Relief Program
repayments, of which it has done 13. Perhaps the
highest-profile TARP recipient was General Motors Co. Contente,
41, was among those on the scene in November 2010 as
last-minute adjustments raised the share price and float of the
automakers $23.14 billion IPO. My dad was one of
the pensioners I worked on behalf of, notes the New
Jerseyraised banker, whose father built cars for GM.
Daniel Ammann, GMs CFO, says of Contente, Hes
a very level-headed, unflappable and straightforward
Since JPMorgan dropped to third place in the equity issuance
rankings last year, Contente and Myers have had to duke it out
with frontrunners Goldman and Morgan Stanley in an increasingly
competitive sector. Although dozens of banks have TARP
repayments pending, most are small: Whats next are
large-cap government monetizations, Myers explains.
JPMorgan is reportedly among the banks working on issues for
American International Group and Ally Financial.
Energy and commodities should be another growth area, along
with emerging markets Chinese companies tapping the
U.S., for example. Tech deals will dominate the China
pipeline, and were working on numerous
transactions, Myers says.
Financial institutions will also turn a corner as the
economy rebounds, while rising interest rates could spark a
surge in convertible shares, which Myers and Contentes
65-member group handles too. And look for a brace of IPOs
reminiscent of the tech boom, involving consumer-oriented,
Internet-based companies with sexy names like Facebook and
Skype. Such issues could be among the largest ever, a prospect
that appeals to Myers and Contente. One of our hallmarks
has been moving through traditional barriers, Myers says.
We never think of history as defining whats