Quattrone dazzles as old suit lingers

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The return of Frank Quattrone as a deal maker has been nothing short of stupendous. He was driven into ostensible remission for years after the dotcom bubble imploded and after he was targeted by the Justice Department with perjury charges. But after he prevailed legally, he got back to business--just in time for another dotcom wave to build.

So far in 2011, he's been on fire, "advising on $27 billion worth of technology mergers so far. With his two big deals this month--advising Autonomy on its $11.7 billion sale to Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Mobility in its $12.5 billion takeover by Google--Mr. Quattrone and his Qatalyst partners have earned an estimated $34.2 million in fees this year," reports the New York Times.  

And yet not all the ghosts of the previous dotcom era have been vanquished. A federal judge in Boston has ruled a case accusing various CSFB analysts of issuing misleading stock research about AOL-Time Warner. Quottrone was named as a defendant for his management role over analysts who issued the research in question. This holdover suit from a previous era comes off a little anachronistic these days--certainly pre-global research settlement--but you do have to wonder about the relationship between research staff and bankers these days.

What exactly is the business model there? Do investment banking executives see any formal synergy, or are they expecting research staff to get with the program voluntarily? It's hard to know. But star net analysts are making a whole lot of money these days. In the past, such salaries were justified in part because they were seen as a de facto part of the banking team. That may no longer be the case, but the replacement model is a bit unclear right now.

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