| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Oct 15 Almost as surprising as
Softbank Corp's $20.1 billion deal to acquire 70
percent of Sprint Nextel Corp was the Japanese company's
choice of advisor.
Instead of going with a large bank like Goldman Sachs
or Morgan Stanley, Softbank went with Raine Group, a
small merchant bank relatively unknown outside of U.S. media and
Raine Group co-founder Jeff Sine and Softbank Chief
Executive Masayoshi Son have a relationship that spans almost a
decade. Their history together, which includes advising Softbank
for much of the last few years in its talks with Yahoo Inc.
over Yahoo Japan and Alibaba Group, gave Sine the edge
over the big investment banks, sources said.
"Jeff is very liked by Masayoshi Son," said a source close
to Sprint's deal with Softbank, who said Sine's relationship
with Masa, as the Softbank CEO is known, dates back to the
banker's days at UBS. "Jeff was critical to the deal."
While that may be true, Sine himself played modest in an
interview with Reuters on Monday.
"Today is all about the deal and client," Sine said. "I
don't want to be seen as one of those bankers who is trying to
make themselves a star. That's not the right way to behave."
After working in the media and technology investment banking
practices of Morgan Stanley and UBS, Sine and former Goldman
Sachs media investment banker Joe Ravitch launched Raine Group
in 2009, consisting of an advisory arm and a private equity
fund. The pair, who combined have more than 40 years of
experience as media and technology bankers, consciously decided
to focus on a small number of clients, aiming to model their
efforts after the days when investment bankers were considered
trusted advisers and confidantes to CEOs.
Indeed, the demise of the investment banker as trusted
adviser was lamented by Evercore Partners' Jonathan Knee, one of
Sine's former colleagues, in a 2006 book called, "The Accidental
One of Raine Group's first big deals was advising Ari
Emmanuel's Hollywood talent agency Endeavor Agency in its merger
with legendary William Morris Agency. The resulting entity, now
known as William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, took a stake in
the bank and has an investment in its private equity fund. Raine
Group's other investors are a mix of large sovereign wealth
funds, including those run by the Abu Dhabi and Singapore
Raine Group has also served as adviser to Dick Clark
Productions in its sale to investment firm Guggenheim Partners
LLC this year and acted as co-adviser alongside Goldman Sachs,
in the stake-sale for the New Jersey Nets in 2009.
With its dual mandate, Raine Group was also an investor in a
Sony-led consortium that bought EMI Music Publishing in a deal
worth $2.2 billion.
Sources said Sine is more active on the advisory side of the
bank while Ravitch is more active on the investing side--he is
responsible for Raine's investment in media company Vice, for
instance. While at Goldman Sachs, Ravitch worked on the launch
of the YES Network and The Weinstein Company, the movie studio
founded by Harvey and Bob Weinstein after they left Miramax.