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Deals of the year 2007: GCA reaches out to buy US peer

M&A boutique GCA’s acquisition of US peer Savvian was a bold cross-border deal that belied the notion that Japanese securities houses lack ambition.

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Deal size: approx ¥90 billion ($780 million); Deal type: share-swap merger (aka triangular merger)
Parties: GCA Holdings (of Japan) and Savvian LLC (US)
GCA Holdings (of Japan) and Savvian LLC (US)
Nobuo Sayama: leading GCA’s rocket-powered ascent since 2004

Nobuo Sayama: leading GCA’s rocket-powered ascent since 2004

In a year of troubled big bank mergers in Japan, the announcement of one small M&A boutique’s acquisition of a US peer attracted little attention. The deal hasn’t been completed yet. It is worth comparatively little: $780 million in a year of multi-billion dollar transactions. It involves an M&A-only company that came into existence just three years ago. So why should anyone care? It’s because this upstart boutique had an extraordinarily successful 2007 by any standards, because it won mandates on the year’s two biggest deals and jumped from 20th to third in the league tables, and because its bold plan to merge with a US bank shows the ambition, dynamic leadership and drive to succeed overseas often said to be lacking at larger Japanese securities firms.

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