Awards for Excellence 2011: Best Global independent investment bank
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Awards for Excellence 2011: Best Global independent investment bank

While retaining the independence to best advise companies and governments on how to finance, the firm boasts a global M&A business of a scale comparable to the largest banks.

Awards for Excellence 2011

Best Global independent investment bank: Lazard

Also nominated: Moelis and Ondra Partners

Lazard’s future briefly appeared uncertain following the untimely death in 2009 of Bruce Wasserstein, the iconic deal maker who, as chief executive, had striven to unite the firm’s US, London and Paris-based partners. But under his replacement, Kenneth Jacobs, an M&A banker who has served the firm since 1988, Lazard has thrived. It ranked 10th in the global league table of M&A advisers for the year under review. Every firm above it has either a large balance sheet or large capital markets financing and trading businesses. Most of them have both. Lazard has neither.

It has to be good at advisory because, aside from its asset management business, it doesn’t have anything else to fall back on. Its annual advisory revenues come in at just over $1 billion, roughly half what Goldman Sachs earns. But at Lazard that accounts for 55% of the firm’s total revenues while at Goldman the contribution is only 6%.

Antonio Weiss, global head of investment banking at Lazard, is cautious of making too much of its independence from trading and taking principal positions.