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DLJ: Wall Street's best-kept secret

DLJ is far from anyone's idea of a global investment banking powerhouse. But in important markets, such as high-yield debt or US equity underwriting, it has suddenly become a top player. Now the "the little firm that became big", as DLJers like to describe their bank, is moving overseas. Peter Lee reports.

So, is it for sale?

Last year, New York-based investment bank Donaldson Lufkin Jenrette (DLJ) moved decidedly up-town. Leaving behind its old, slightly run-down, headquarters on Broadway after 30 years, it moved into swish new premises at 277 Park Avenue, next door to Bear Stearns and across the street from the newly merged Chase Manhattan Bank. Employees moved over several weekends in early spring. Each Friday night was the same. The snow would descend on New York in one of the worst periods of bad weather the city could remember. But, so far at least, last year's storms have not been a bad omen for DLJ.

As well as accommodating a lot of new people ­ the firm employs 5,900, up from 4,900 at the end of 1995 and 1,500 in 1987 ­ the move was symbolic of a firm that had suddenly grown up. Started as a pure equity research firm in 1959, DLJ is now the youngest and newest member of Wall Street's investment banking bulge bracket.

"We have claimed our birthright," says Joe Roby, its president and chief operating officer.

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