Talk about hitting the ground running. Joele Frank took her name off the door at what was then Abernathy MacGregor Frank—where she led a thriving mergers and acquisitions practice—less than a year ago. Within months, her new firm had established itself as a leader in the category, with more than 30 professionals and a client list that included players in the some of the biggest deals of 2000: representing General Mills in its acquisition of Pillsbury, PaineWebber in its acquisition by UBS, United Airlines in its bid for USAir, Unilever in its purchase of Best Foods, Philip Morris in its deal for Nabisco Holdings, and dozens more.
The M&A sector is driven by individual relationships more than any other type of public relations business. Clients don’t care about the size of the agency or the name on the door as much as they need to trust the individual working on their business, and Frank clearly has that trust, having worked on the DuPont-Union Carbide, Qwest-USWest, WorldCom-MCI, and BellAtlantic-Nynex deals, to name but a few. But the new firm is no one-woman band. Frank has been joined by Judith Wilkinson, an expert in the energy and telecommunications industries; Andrew Brimmer, whose credentials include restructurings and litigation as well as M&A; and Dan Katcher, whose deal experience includes the merger of USWest and Qwest and AMP’s defense against AlliedSignal.
With a wealth of talent at the director level, Frank’s firm takes a “think-tank” approach to problem solving, working with clients and other advisors such as law firms, investment bankers, management consultants, and lobbying firms to come up with creative solutions to their problems. The firm prides itself on its responsiveness—the transactions business demands 24/7 service—and its ability to staff every account with senior personnel.