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Hobbs's choice

Fritz Hobbs spent most of his career working at a small operation. Now, four years after selling Dillon Read to behemoth Swiss Bank Corp., he's opted for cozy again.

This month Hobbs, 54, becomes CEO of Los Angeles-based Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin, a 225-person, privately held investment bank that specializes in bankruptcies and restructurings. Hobbs was especially attracted by Houlihan's focus on teamwork. "Psychic income matters," says Hobbs, who joined Dillon in 1972 out of Harvard Business School. "Nobody is more competitive than me, but I'm not going to do it inside the company I'm working for." Hobbs, who ran Dillon Read's merger and advisory business in the 1980s, then headed worldwide corporate finance after UBS bought SBC, will try to beef up Houlihan's client relationships and expand its mergers and acquisitions capabilities. With ten offices, Houlihan Lokey won't be a UBS Warburg anytime soon, but that's fine with Hobbs. Despite Houlihan's small size, he says, "they've got a lot of killers in there."