Robertson Stephens Closed Down by FleetBoston

July 22, 2002 by Jeff Shepard

Robertson Stephens & Co. (San Francisco, CA), an investment bank that was important to the power electronics industry, was closed down by owner FleetBoston Financial Corp. (Boston). Fleet had been seeking to unload the boutique investment house for months as technology stocks fell and underwriting deals from the sector disappeared. Fleet said it decided to shut the company down after its attempt to find a buyer failed and a proposed employee buy-out fell through.

The investment bank was directly

involved in public offerings from numerous semiconductor companies, including Elantec Semiconductor Inc. (Milpitas, CA), Exar, Fairchild Semiconductor International (South Portland, ME), Intersil Corp. (Irvine, CA), Infineon Technologies AG (Munich, Germany), Microchip Technology Inc. (Chandler, AZ), ON Semiconductor LLC (Phoenix, AZ), Power Integrations Inc. (San Jose, CA) and others, as well as power conversion companies such as Advanced Energy Systems Ltd. (Bentley, Australia), Peco II, Power-One Inc. (Camarillo, CA) and others.

In 2000, Robertson Stephens was the top lead underwriter of technology IPOs. The company, which cost Fleet $800.0 million in 1998, could charge more than $600.0 million. The decision leaves about 950 Robertson employees out of work.

"We've been expecting it, but it came down abruptly," stated Ron Wright, a Robertson employee, as he left the bank's headquarters. "Saw a lot of long, sad faces. There are people who have been there 10, 15, 20 years and now we're all gone. We're all packing up and leaving today."