International investment bank Houlihan Lokey soldiers on for mergers on the economic front. The firm provides advisory services for primarily mid-market companies involved in M&A deals and corporate restructurings, including the sale of distressed assets and other turnaround situations. Houlihan Lokey also raises private and public equity for midsized private and small-cap public companies. The company is among the top M&A advisors in the US, especially for deals valued at less than $1 billion. Houlihan Lokey operates about 15 offices in the US, Europe, and Asia. Founded in 1972, Houlihan Lokey is majority-owned by Japanese financial services company ORIX; employees own the rest of the firm.
The company's M&A practice has earned Houlihan Lokey a spot alongside some of Wall Street's biggest dealmakers, but the similarities stop there. While the bulge-bracket firms spent a tough 2008 being acquired, converting to banking institutions, or going out of business, Houlihan Lokey continued to expand its client base and headcount. In 2009 the firm launched a dedicated transaction advisory services group to evaluate acquisition targets. The following year it acquired Red Pine Advisors, which values and prices structured product portfolios.
In addition to providing valuations and financial opinions, the firm has one of the largest independent financial restructuring practices in the country. Merchant banking activities are conducted through private equity affiliates Sunrise Capital Partners -- which indulges in a little mid-market "vulture" investing in distressed assets -- and Century Park Capital Partners -- which targets private US companies valued between $20 million and $150 million.
Houlihan Lokey is pushing to expand its Asian presence, particularly in China and Hong Kong. It hopes to translate its M&A expertise to the burgeoning market there, with its complex legal landscape. In 2010 the company invested in Avista Advisory, an investment bank with operations in India and Singapore. The company opened its first office in the region in 2007, the same year it was acquired by Orix. – less