Verizon-Yahoo deal: Boutique banks just netted a big payday

Yahoo shares halted on Verizon news

When the year's most hotly anticipated tech deal went down, Wall Street's biggest banks got elbowed aside by upstart competitors.

There were more boutique banks on the Yahoo-Verizon deal, announced Monday morning, than institutional Wall Street firms — the latest reminder that small, dedicated and focused M&A teams are increasingly disrupting institutions that are often their former employers.

LionTree Advisors, Allen & Co., Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Guggenheim Securities advised Verizon on its $4.83 billion purchase of Yahoo; Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and PJT Partners worked on the deal for Marissa Mayer and Yahoo.

"The number of banks on the deal was relatively large," said Jeffrey Nassof, director at mergers and acquisitions consulting firm Freeman & Co. "The obvious trend here is toward boutiques."

Yahoo! President and CEO Marissa Mayer.
Getty Images

And just as the number of banks on the deal was large, so was the payout. There is about $80 million to $90 million to be divided among the banks on the deal, Nassof said.

Yahoo hasn't exactly been known for taking the traditional route toward M&A in the past, and Verizon has previously leaned on Guggenheim bankers on large transactions, so the outcome Monday morning may not be viewed as a surprise in some corners of Wall Street. Both LionTree and Guggenheim represented Verizon on its acquisition of AOL last year, and in that deal, Allen & Co. represented the seller.

Big banks dominated the M&A scene until after the global financial crisis. After that, boutiques' portion of M&A revenue rose, from single-digit territory to 17 percent at the midway point of this year.

For banks that until recently had a stranglehold on M&A to lose out on tens of millions of dollars stings on a number of levels.

Wall Street has cut so many jobs, that it's now forced to cut pay in order to make numbers, and at a time when boutiques' share of deal revenue has increased from the prior year, it seems likely that their upper hand is only growing stronger.

— Disclosure: CNBC has a content-sharing partnership with Yahoo's finance site.