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You are here: Business Finance A Decisive Acquisition
The eyes of the nation and the world are on America’s financial services industry. With new laws such as the Dodd-Frank Act and its Volcker Rule provision now on the books to promote transparency in banking and protect consumers, service providers are scrambling to adapt to the new rules while growing their businesses. Philip Panaro, CEO of consulting company IM2, has been walking this fine line since 1998.

Panaro founded IM2 for one reason: to work with Bankers Trust, the then-struggling collective of banks that included the venerable Alex. Brown & Sons. IM2 saw Bankers Trust through its acquisition by Deutsche Bank in 1998, which, according to Panaro, was the first successful acquisition of a U.S. bank by a foreign bank in history. Deutsche Bank CIO at the time, David Marshall, suggested the bank use IM2 for merger integration, and IM2 closed the deal within three months.

Since then, IM2 has been known for its speed and consistency, and that focus is reflected in Panaro’s leadership philosophy. “Leadership consists of two things: making a decision and making the right decision,” he said. “The speed of the decision is important.” He added that with the regulatory climate as it is, businesses like his can’t afford not to be decisive.

The bulk of IM2’s business comes from merger acquisition services, as well as outsourcing consultation for companies interested in farming out some of their front- or back-office processes. IM2 worked on the JP Morgan–Chase merger and the Deutsche Bank–Scudder merger. In 2002, the consulting firm allied itself with Booz Allen Hamilton in order to better provide start-to-finish merger and acquisition services.

Panaro says that the financial services sector is one of the only U.S. industries not currently suffering from the downturn in the economy. Among IM2’s most sought-after services are its cost savings analysis, risk assessment and outsourcing consultation, all of which he says businesses seek more often when the economy slows. “As a result, our work has increased as we go deeper into recession.”

IM2’s biggest project right now is building an asset-backed exchange, which creates a pool of derivatives backed by defined securities, for a client. ”This will be monumental,” said Panaro, explaining that it will facilitate increased transparency and improved liquidity for investors and trading communities. IM2 was awarded the contract based on its reputation. “We are known for certainty,” said Panaro. “We execute, we get the stuff done and we don’t miss deadlines.”

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