Wall Street rainmaker Michael Klein no longer a one-man show

January 13, 2016 10:58 AM EST

People walk past the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street, February 10, 2009. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

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By Olivia Oran

(Reuters) - Star dealmaker and former Citigroup Inc executive Michael Klein, the lead adviser to Dow Chemical Co on its $130 billion merger with DuPont, has quietly tripled the size of his advisory firm in the last 18 months.

His New York-based shop, M. Klein & Co, has no website or marketing materials, and does not even list a phone number for its office. Yet the firm has been taking bold steps in expanding to 20 employees and has extended its presence to London and Beijing.

The secretive firm's expansion drive, revealed by Klein in an interview with Reuters this week, illustrates the scope of its ambitions after it was started in 2012 as a one-man advisory boutique.

Klein said this week he had engaged Mike Eck, former global head of consumer and retail investment banking at Morgan Stanley, as a senior adviser. He joins a handful of other high-profile appointments, including former treasury secretary Larry Summers, who works with the firm on a project-by-project basis.

While the firm would not provide a comprehensive list of employees or advisers that it works with, Klein has a big network of Wall Street contacts he can tap. He worked at Citigroup for 23 years and ran the bank's institutional clients business, where he was responsible for its advisory and financing practice.

Klein's new firm bills itself as less of a traditional boutique bank focused solely on providing advice on transactions for large companies, and more of an "embedded adviser" to CEOs, boards of directors, institutional investors and governments. The firm advises on a wide range of issues apart from mergers, including corporate governance, activism, crisis management, litigation and arbitration.

"There are several organizations who are very good at giving M&A advice," Klein said. "We think of our firm as, of course, doing that at the highest level, but being a different type of model more aligned to what senior bankers used to do for their clients when I grew up in this business.

"For any one client, we'll provide a range of strategic activities that adds value, from advising on a multi-billion-dollar acquisition, to resolving a dispute with a critical customer to negotiating with a government in order to ensure payment of a multi-billion-dollar arbitration award."

Klein, once considered a potential successor to former Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill, left the bank in 2008 to advise Britain's government during the global financial crisis. He also worked on a variety of other transactions, including advising Barclays Plc and its board on its acquisition of Lehman Brothers and the government of Dubai on its restructuring of the state-owned conglomerate Dubai World.

Klein's firm stands to split with Lazard Ltd and Morgan Stanley the $80 million to $100 million in estimated investment banking fees that Dow will pay for financial advice on the pending DuPont merger, which was announced in December.

In 2012, Klein brokered the $80 billion merger of commodity and mining firms Glencore Plc and Xstrata, where he secured a rare role of advising both companies.

Last year, Klein's firm also advised Barrick Gold Corp on the sale of its 50 percent interest in a copper mine in Chile and Noble Group on the sale of its remaining interest in its agriculture business to China’s Cofco Corp.

(Reporting by Olivia Oran in New York; Editing by Greg Roumeliotis and Bill Trott)

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