Gurtcheff flees Piper Jaffray for Harris Williams

The former co-head of Piper’s middle market M&A group earlier this month took up a new post as managing director at Harris Williams & Co., an investment bank also known for its focus on the middle market. Gurtcheff will open, staff and run that firm’s new Minneapolis office.

“I got to a point in my investment-banking career where I had to ask myself, ‘What’s left for me to accomplish?’ I wanted to go to a platform I thought was the best, that would give me the greatest ability to win transactions right out of the box—that was Harris Williams,” Gurtcheff told Buyouts.

Gurtcheff said he was also attracted to the simplicity that Harris Williams offered as a pure M&A advisory firm, versus the more complex business model at Piper Jaffray, where the middle market M&A group is one of five i-banking platforms that perform a wide array of services. He noted that his discussions with Harris Williams “happened relatively quickly and very recently.”

For Harris Williams, the hiring of Gurtcheff and the opening of a Minneapolis office is a continuation of its recent expansion. Earlier this year, the Richmond, Va.-based firm opened a new office in Philadelphia, and announced the formation of a dedicated transportation and logistics group.

Gurtcheff, responsible for staffing the new Minneapolis office, is currently working in a temporary location holding interviews to fill the vacant positions. “I did have conversations with some folks that I worked with at Piper Jaffray, and at the end of the day I did ask people to join me,” Gurtcheff said. In the end, however, none of his former colleagues defected.

I did have conversations with some folks that I worked with at Piper Jaffray, and at the end of the day I did ask people to join me…

Glen Gurtcheff

Multiple sources told Buyouts that Piper Jaffray offered substantial monetary incentives to members of its mid market M&A practice to keep them in house.

Like Harris Williams, Piper Jaffray has been busy with its own expansion efforts. In February, the firm added a financial restructuring team to its corporate and institutional services practice—hiring away six members from CIBC’s financial restructuring group. It also recently added more senior professionals to its financial institutions practice, increased the size of its London team, and is in the process of opening an office in Shanghai.

However, Piper will not seek a replacement for Gurtcheff. “I’ve been busy scratching out the ‘co-’ from all my business cards,” said Jeff Rosenkranz, Gurtcheff’s former Piper Jaffray counterpart, who now serves as the sole head of Piper’s Middle Market M&A practice.

“We will miss him as a friend and a partner, but frankly, [Gurtcheff’s absence] shouldn’t impact us negatively,” Rosenkranz added. “We have a very deep team and they all stayed. Our business pipeline remains strong and we feel confident about 2006 and beyond.”