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The Arkansas-based mega retailer's buyout of the New Jersey-based website is the biggest U.S. e-commerce M&A deal ever.
The arrival of Allen & Co. at Wal-Mart's side in the Jet.com deal is notable for several reasons. Not only is the rising tide of boutique banks, sometimes led by former Wall Street banks' ex-rainmakers, continuing to pose a threat to bigger institutions. Allen & Co.'s working for Wal-Mart is also a sign that little banks are making big in-roads toward institutional firms' cherished business relationships with large-cap clients.
It's going to mean big bucks at Allen & Co., said Jeffrey Nassof, director at mergers and acquisitions consulting firm Freeman & Co. Altogether, the banks that work both sides of the Wal-Mart acquisition of Jet stand to make up to $45 million combined, he said.
Jet's advisers on the deal were not publicized, and a CNBC request for comment was not returned.
Wal-Mart, in prior tech acquisitions, did little by way of announcing which banks, if any, it worked with. Monday morning's announcement said that along with lead bank Allen & Co., JPMorgan Securities worked on the Jet deal. In contrast, Wal-Mart's 2015 acquisition of Chinese e-commerce firm Yihaodian made no mention of an adviser. It also made no such mention during its 2015 acquisition of Silicon Valley-based PunchTab for its WalmartLabs division. And when the mega retailer bought its way into the South African market in 2010 with the $4.6 billion deal for MassMart, another smaller bank (albeit one with a far longer track record), Rothschild, was on the deal.
Boutique investment banks saw their share of revenue from M&A rise year over year in the first half of 2016 — and if more deals like Wal-Mart's Jet buyout fly their way, it could make for an all-time high for small banks.
At a time when Wall Street banks are having a tough time meeting analysts' expectations for return on equity, the deals may mark one more challenge in a difficult year.