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BofA’s Petrie Joins Former Colleagues at Energy Boutique

Bank of America Corp.’s Thomas Petrie, a vice chairman who founded an oil and gas advisory firm the bank later acquired, is joining his former colleagues at a new energy boutique after leaving the lender.

Petrie, 67, will become chairman of Strategic Energy Advisors, said Jon Hughes, a co-founder of the Denver-based investment bank. Randall King, who left Bank of America this year, is joining Strategic Energy’s board, Hughes said.

Strategic Energy is reuniting members of the old Petrie Parkman & Co., founded in 1989 and sold in 2006 to Merrill Lynch & Co., later acquired by Bank of America. Petrie and King, who left in April, were the last senior Petrie Parkman bankers still at the Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender.

“There’s an element of putting the band back together,” Hughes said in a telephone interview today. He co-founded Strategic Energy last year, along with Michael Bock and Andrew Rapp. All three worked at Petrie Parkman and later Merrill Lynch and Bank of America.

Zia Ahmed, a spokesman at Bank of America, declined to comment.

“We enjoyed our time” at Bank of America, Hughes said. “But a number of us really enjoyed the boutique format and preferred that to a bulge-bracket platform,” he said, using a term for Wall Street’s biggest investment banks.

Loans, Hedges

Small and independent firms may be better suited to advising on the sale of oil and gas assets, Hughes said. He said large investment banks often prefer to work with buyers because they stand to make more money arranging loans and hedges than they could make from a sale advisory fee.

In one of its first assignments, Strategic Energy is advising the independent committee of the board of Venoco Inc., the Denver-based oil explorer, on its proposed $770 million sale to majority owner Timothy Marquez. Bank of America is co-adviser on the transaction, agreed to in January.

Petrie Parkman was founded in 1989 by Petrie, a former First Boston Corp. oil analyst, and James Parkman, a banker at the same firm. Parkman left the company in 2006.

Petrie left “to pursue personal interests,” said Purna Saggurti, Bank of America’s chairman of corporate and investment banking, in a March internal memorandum announcing the planned departure. He said Petrie “played a critical role in positioning Bank of America Merrill Lynch as one of the world’s leading energy investment banking institutions.”

A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Petrie served as an army captain in Germany and Vietnam. At First Boston, he was Institutional Investor’s top-ranked oil analyst for eight straight years.

Acquisition, Divestiture

Petrie Parkman focused in part on “acquisition and divestiture” work -- helping companies buy and sell oil and gas fields, often with the help of engineers and geologists. Merrill Lynch was one of several investment banks to place bets on the A&D business in recent years.

Jefferies Group Inc. in 2005 bought a similar boutique, known as Randall & Dewey. Bank of Nova Scotia acquired Waterous & Co. that year, and Royal Bank of Canada added Richardson Barr & Co. in 2008. In 2009, Macquarie Group Inc. bought Tristone Capital Global Inc.

Bank of Montreal, Evercore Partners Inc., and Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. started A&D businesses by hiring from competitors. Lazard Ltd. last month said it hired an A&D banker, David Cecil, from Bank of Nova Scotia.

Merrill Lynch

Merrill Lynch bought Petrie Parkman for an undisclosed amount that included $111 million in stock, according to a regulatory filing. In a separate filing before the purchase, Petrie Parkman said it had 53 employees, about half of them bankers.

Merrill Lynch promoted A&D services on its website, under the name “Merrill Lynch Petrie Divestiture Advisors.” The website has since been discontinued.

Bank of America continues to have a dedicated team handling A&D assignments, and is working on about a dozen active A&D deals, said a person with knowledge of the matter.

Not all Petrie Parkman bankers ended up at Strategic Energy. Mark Deverka, who left in 2010, founded ARAD Energy LLC, an advisory boutique whose clients include billionaire Trevor Rees-Jones’s Chief Oil & Gas. Sylvia Barnes joined KeyCorp, Timothy Saxman went to Citigroup Inc., and Mark Carmain to Morris Energy Advisors.

Only two Petrie Parkman bankers -- Steve Almrud and Mark Sooby -- remain at Bank of America. Both were recently promoted to managing director.

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