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UBS Warburg Is in Talks to Buy IT M&A Firm Broadview
By PATRICK McGEEHAN
Broadview International, an investment bank that specializes in technology company mergers, is in serious discussions to sell itself to UBS Warburg, several Wall Street executives said over the weekend.
Warburg, the investment banking arm of the Swiss bank UBS, could announce a deal to buy Broadview, a private partnership, as soon as this week. But an agreement is not certain because the firms were still negotiating some terms of the sale over the weekend, these people said, and the talks could fall apart.
Exact terms of the transaction could not be determined. People close to the firms said the price could be as low as $100 million, a fraction of what Broadview could have sold for just two years ago, an example of how far the technology sector has fallen.
"We get approached all the time by other firms, which does lead to speculation," said Brian Hickey, a Broadview spokesman. "It is our firm policy not to comment on rumors and speculation."
A spokesman for UBS, which also owns the PaineWebber brokerage firm, declined to comment.
While most big firms on Wall Street have been cutting back, UBS has been spending money to hire veteran investment bankers. Buying Broadview could enhance Warburg's stature in the technology sector in time for a rebound in deal-making activity there.
Broadview, which is based in Fort Lee, N.J., and has offices in Silicon Valley, Boston and London, grew rapidly during the technology boom of the late 1990's as it advised technology companies on dozens of acquisitions, most paid for with inflated stock.
After giant banks gobbled up several tech-focused investment banks including Hambrecht & Quist (news/quote), Broadview became the biggest independent firm of its kind. Among its coups was the sale of the chip maker Burr-Brown to Texas Instruments (news/quote) for more than $7.6 billion in June 2000.
But Broadview has been struggling through a deal drought since the technology stock bubble two years ago. The firm eliminated about 150 jobs last year and now has a staff of about 200 people. Some of its senior executives, including Victor Basta, the executive chairman of its international business, have left the firm in the last few months. Late last year, Broadview hired another mergers specialist, Lazard, to help find a buyer.
UBS is not the first big bank to consider buying Broadview. The Goldman Sachs Group (news/quote) discussed an acquisition of Broadview last year but backed off, people close to the firms said.
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