Top Credit Suisse Deal Maker to Take Post in Chicago

Michael J. de la Merced|The New York Times

One of Wall Street's veteran mergers advisers is preparing for wheeling and dealing in a different arena: the world of politics.

Credit Suisse
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Steven Koch, Credit Suisse's co-chairman of mergers and acquisitions, will leave his perch at the Swiss bank to become a deputy mayor of Chicago in Rahm Emanuel's administration.

He will succeed Mark Angelson, the former chief executive of R.R. Donnelly, who has served in the Emanuel administration since it took office last year. His first day will be September 4.

But moving from Wall Street to La Salle Street prompts mixed emotions in the longtime deal maker.

"I'm hugely excited because it's a fascinating world, and it's a fascinating new challenge," he told DealBook by telephone on Tuesday. "It's just exciting to re-pot yourself."

Mr. Koch's departure marks the end of a 27-year career at what has become Credit Suisse , one in which he advised on about $1 trillion worth of deals. A lawyer by training, he joined First Boston in 1985, having previously worked at Lehman Brothers Kuhn Loeb.

During that time, he rose through the ranks, eventually rising to his current role as a senior mergers executive at the firm. Among the deals that Mr. Koch has advised on were Fortune Brands' spin-off of Beam Brands, the Aon Corporation's takeover of Hewitt and Nestle's takeovers of Ralston Purina and Gerber.

"I love what I do," he said. "I wake up most mornings wondering why people pay me to do what I do."

But Mr. Koch had always been interested in the public sector as well. He had long took part in nonprofit organizations like the Sinai Health System of Chicago, a hospital system. (The banker had raised several hundred thousand dollars for the organization by riding cross-country with his son, Jacob—a trip that sometimes involved taking client calls while pedaling past bewildered onlookers.)

Mr. Koch had campaigned for during his 2008 presidential run, a time in which he had made the acquaintance of Mr. Emanuel. After he successfully ran for mayor of Chicago, Mr. Emanuel asked Mr. Koch to co-head his transition committee.

Soon after Mr. Angelson gave notice of his intention to leave the Emanuel administration—he will become the chairman of the Institute of International Education's scholar rescue fund—Mr. Koch said that the mayor again gave him a call. While lacking in the theatrics that Mr. Emanuel is known for, the message was clear in asking for Mr. Koch's help.

"At some point, he said, enough of this," Mr. Koch recalled. "He said, 'It's your turn.'"

In a statement, Mr. Emanuel said, "Steve Koch is a natural choice to take over for Mark Angelson and continue the progress this administration is making to make sure Chicago's economy is diverse, expanding, fostering innovation and creating jobs throughout the city."

The move will require a bit of a change in responsibility. As deputy mayor, Mr. Koch will be responsible for many of Chicago's financial issues, from its internal budget to development projects. It is an assignment that he says will be open-ended, rather than having any sort of fixed timeline.

Before taking the role, something he had already been considered for several years, Mr. Koch said that he had consulted with a number of friends. Among them was Daniel L. Doctoroff, a former Lehman Brothers banker who joined the administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City.

Mr. Koch said that his agenda closely follows that of Mr. Emanuel, including improving Chicago's schools and bolstering the city's economic attractions for new businesses. And in his new role, he said that he expects to use many of the tools in his deal-maker kit, including financial analysis and people skills.

"It's fundamentally about persuasion and what drives people," he said. "They're skills of how to get an organization to do things and move forward."