Frank Quattrone Probably Didn’t Want Everyone To See This Particular Pitchbook

People who have real jobs are sometimes surprised to learn how much of investment banking consists of hopeless pitching. Your team puts together a forty-page slide deck with sixty pages of appendices, proofreads it repeatedly, updates numbers every day for two weeks, and prints a dozen glossy spiral-bound copies. Then you lug them halfway across the continent, slog through the first five pages with an increasingly bored potential client, are politely rebuffed, and then cleverly ask “hey do you want any extra copies of the presentation for your colleagues?” so you don’t have to carry them back on the plane. Glamorous work.

It could, however, be worse, in that you typically don’t expect the prospective client that you’re pitching to put your slide deck on the Internet with a condescending link.* Sadly for publicity shy investment bankers everywhere, corporate innovator Larry Ellison wants to change that norm.

If you haven’t heard, there’s a silly spat occurring between Oracle and Autonomy, the software company that Hewlette-Packard agreed to buy in August. In summary, (1) Oracle’s Ellison was asked about the combination and he said something to the effect of “nah, Autonomy asked us to buy them first but they looked too expensive so we passed,” (2) Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch denied ever pitching Oracle, (3) Oracle pointed out that Lynch came to Oracle’s office in April with tech M&A dean and Qatalyst Partners CEO Frank Quattrone to meet with Oracle president Mark Hurd and M&A head Doug Kehring, (4) Lynch claimed that that meeting was just a customer meeting facilitated by Quattrone and that they discussed database technology, not M&A, (5) Oracle called that claim a “whopper” and released what it claims are the pitch slides from that meeting at the link, and (6) Quattrone jumped in to claim that those slides “were for the purpose of [Qatalyst] independently pitching Autonomy as an idea to Oracle,” were prepared before Autonomy hired Qatalyst to sell itself to H-P, and “were not used in our April meeting with Mark and Doug.”

From looking at the slides (here and here), which are dated January and provide a mostly generic overview of Autonomy based on public information, it seems unlikely that Oracle’s version is accurate. If you’ve ever met an investment banker, you will find it hard to believe that the CEO of a bank would show up to an M&A pitch meeting in April with a client CEO and a pitch book that hasn’t been updated since January. It is just imaginable that they’d have an M&A discussion without a deck – but not imaginable that they’d have that discussion with a four-month-old deck.

Also suspicious is that the deck contains real company names. Ridiculous though it sometimes seems, bankers love the veneer of secrecy that alliterative code names provide. If these slides were for an Autonomy mandated meeting where Autonomy was trying to sell itself to Oracle, they would be labeled “Autoeroticism Overview” and, if they fell into the wrong hands, would disguise the target’s identity so cunningly that even the cleverest reader would fail to recognize it.**

So you can see why Quattrone was so quick to say that the slides came from him and were not used in any Autonomy meetings – first of all because it’s probably true, and second because if these slides were actually used in a meeting between Autonomy and Oracle it would be a pretty lame performance by Qatalyst.

But it’s a little awkward for Qatalyst anyway. Yes, bankers spend a lot of their time rubbing sticks together to try to produce mergers and acquisitions. Yes, every client suspects that the banker that they consider their trusted advisor is leaving their office, going to their competitor’s office, and telling the competitor “you should really buy those guys, I just met with them and they can’t make it on their own.” But it’s still rough to see it in black and white, on the recipient’s computer system – even if the target here came to the same conclusion and sold.

It’s especially rough for Qatalyst, who have made their name as a sell-side advisor. Their web site’s page of tombstones includes only four buy-side deals (and 20+ sell-side deals), and they’ve gotten quite a bit of press for Quattrone’s ability to push up prices. Going to Oracle and saying “you should hire us to help you buy Autonomy” may seem a little awkward if you’re also talking to Autonomy, but it’s clearly part of the game. It’s just not so much part of Qatalyst’s game.

On the other hand, going to Oracle and dropping hints that they should try to buy Autonomy, hoping that Oracle’s approach will inspire Autonomy to hire you as an advisor, is a little more awkward – and much more of a conflict of interest.

Barbs Fly in Autonomy-Oracle Feud [DealBook]

Please Buy Autonomy [Oracle]

* This might actually be better, ex ante, because it could cut down dramatically on analyst workload.

** Unless the reader looked at the stock price chart, comparison of selected companies with all of Autonomy’s competitors named, or the list of Autonomy’s management and directors.

(hidden for your protection)
Show all comments

113 Responses to “Frank Quattrone Probably Didn’t Want Everyone To See This Particular Pitchbook”

  1. Scatalyst says:

    I had the misfortune to be a buyer of deals from Quattrone when he was at First Boston/CSFB/whatever. He was the most arrogant SOB ever. He would ask you to put a valuation together for an IPO (hello, I'm the client, not your employee) and tell him exactly how much you would pay per share and why you chose those multiples. Stopped doing business with them. How he managed to overturn his conviction on his blatant favoritism is beyond me. Court must have been mesmerized by his ridiculous mustache. Asshole.

  2. Sarcasm says:

    Thanks for the 9 paragraphs of analysis. Don't worry, it was still really funny on paragraph 6!!!

  3. pazzo83 says:

    Mario & Wollensky

  4. Dr_Rosenrose says:

    If there is a company who sounds like they want to get bought more than Autonomy, I sure haven't heard of it.

  5. Bowzer says:

    Um, where is Luigi?

  6. Guesticles says:

    We can all agree – buyside, strong side.

  7. Ray Finkle says:

    On the next twelve multiple charts they shouldn't carry the decimal unless they plan on using it… Just sayin'

    I haven't even looked through the next deck, sloppy fellas- real sloppy.

  8. Fixed Income says:

    The thicker the pitchbook, the dumber the banker.

  9. wsjevons says:

    The Autonomy book is embarrassingly bad. Looks like a first year “career-changer” mba interpretation of what they think a prospecting book looks like.

  10. deal_mkr says:

    i dont get what the big deal is here…"sell siders" have "ideas" presentations with potential buyers all the time to keep up relationships put some companies on the table, even if they are not formally mandated by the sellers. Oracle seems to just be splitting hairs on the difference between an ideas book and a formal sell side ptich.

  11. P the cable guy says:

    Hey Bess go F¡79 yourself!

  12. Guest says:

    "Glamorous work" – HAHAHAHA

    Giving hand jobs for crack is a more glamorous profession than I-Banker.

  13. dude says:



  14. That Guy says:

    Ugh, ugly deck.

    — guy who cares more about fonts & colors than multiples and valuation

  15. !FoF says:

    I misread the title of the post, it thought it was Frank's Bitchbook

  16. James Lipton says:

    Matt, welcome to Inside the Actor's Studio. Tell me, do you and Bess ever watch movies in the office? If so, haveyoueverwatchedthetimelessandwonderfulepic "A River Runs Through It" that defined a generation? The 1992 film launched the wildly successful career of one Brad Pitt. Thereisawonderfulsceneinthatclassicmovie…where the father is requiring the son to write… and rewrite… and rewrite yet again his home-school essay, each time making them ever shorter uttering those immortal words…. "half as long"…"half as long"… "half as long"…until it the prose is perfect in its brevity upon which time he father instructs young Mr. Pitt to "now throw it away."

  17. chris says:

    the operating statistics and multiples titles are switched…

  18. Guest says:

    Links 404, looks like Oracle took the slides down.

  19. Golden Boy says:

    His pitchbook consists of:

    1-Go all in on BAC outs

    2-If that doesn't work, blame the SEC and direct everyone to Zero Hedge

  20. Not taking sides says:

    slides or it didn't happen

  21. copyroom says:

    can I have the bitch book back? i want to spank it

  22. p2w says:

    if ppt's of that quality and buying someone the occasional hooker are all you have to do to be an i-banker, things are starting to make sense now…..

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