In telecommunications and media, the trend has been for technologies, services and business models to overlap. As networks have become more powerful, and forms of digital content have proliferated, once-distinct industry niches have converged. Phone companies have established themselves as television companies and are increasingly interested in new applications and media.
Shifts within banks reflect those changes.
Earlier this month, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.'s lead telecom banker, Kurt Simon, joined Jennifer Nason as co-head of technology, media and telecommunications investment banking. Simon will relocate from New York to San Francisco, where he will work with Peter Engel, a J.P. Morgan vice chairman who has oversees West Coast investment banking.
"We've always had an integrated practice," Simon says of Nason's leadership of the TMT group and its industry components. "That's not going to change. It's going to continue to grow."
Simon, 44, received his B.A. in economics and public policy from Duke University in 1987. He worked at Merrill Lynch & Co. as an analyst for two years before going to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania to get his M.B.A.
After stops at Salomon Brothers and Lehman Brothers Inc., he joined Merrill's M&A group in 1994. He stayed for eight years, rising to head of telecommunications mergers and acquisitions before he left for J.P. Morgan in 2002.
When Simon arrived at J.P. Morgan, Nason ran its telecommunications banking unit. She was promoted to head of TMT in 2004, and Simon took charge at the telecom investment banking team.
Simon's deal resumé includes work across an array of telecommunications niches. He advised rural landline company Embarq Corp. on a $12 billion merger with CenturyTel Inc., which now operates as CenturyLink Inc. The $27.5 billion leveraged sale of rural wireless company Alltel Corp. to TPG Capital and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners was another assignment. Simon worked on a series of transactions for wireless carrier Nextel Communications Inc., from 1999 until its $35 billion merger with Sprint Corp. in 2005.
"I'll keep a select group of my core clients," he says, "and with Jennifer and Peter's partnership, focus my efforts on continuing to grow our digital media and technology businesses."
J.P. Morgan's tech clientele already includes some prominent names. The TMT group advised a private equity group led by Silver Lake in their $2.75 billion acquisition of Internet phone company Skype Technologies SA. The bank also advised Palm Inc. on a $374 million follow-on stock offering and helped Intel Corp. raise $1.75 billion in convertible equity.
Telecoms are busily spending on more powerful fiber and wireless networks that can carry new forms of entertainment and information. The convergence of communications technologies and business models has often led to dealmaking as companies tried to capture new opportunities or cover up their deficiencies. If history is a guide, TMT will continue to be fertile ground.
"There is a huge growth opportunity in both technology and digital media," Simon adds. -- Chris Nolter