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Salomon Brothers alumni are reviving the swashbuckling bank made famous by ‘Liar’s Poker’

February 7, 2022, 9:49 AM UTC

The successes of Salomon Brothers bankers — along with their excesses — were once synonymous with Wall Street, as depicted in the books “Liar’s Poker” and “Barbarians at the Gate.” Now a group of former employees is reviving the storied name, hoping to use it as they ramp up a new firm.

The “full-service investment bank” will cater to businesses in New York State seeking $3 million to $300 million in equity capital, the company said in a statement. The firm said it intends to hire hundreds of staff in the coming years. 

“Salomon Brothers is a legendary name that has a tremendous following,” President R. Adam Smith said in an interview. “We have the honor to carry that legacy on our shoulders and to share that with bankers.”

Smith said plans first hatched around three years ago to launch a bank that would take up the old Salomon Brothers mantle, and that his group acquired the trademark from an undisclosed third party. He declined to disclose terms.

Smith spent two years at Salomon Brothers as an analyst, according to his LinkedIn profile, where he is listed as founder of financial firms including RAS Capital Partners and Circle Peak Capital. Other members of the firm’s advisory board spent more time at Salomon, according to the company’s website.

While the idea is to bank — literally and figuratively — on the firm’s famous name, there will be some key differences between this version of the firm and its previous incarnation.

For one thing, the bank won’t run a large bond-trading desk like the one that defined its predecessor. The company also plans to keep its workforce much smaller. 

“We believe that in the case of the modern Salomon Brothers, the brand is the star, not ourselves as individuals,” Smith said.

Even so, there will still be a chance for bankers to make a name for themselves by launching independent, boutique investment-banking practices that would still be able to draw on the larger organization’s reputation and resources, Smith said.

This isn’t the first time contemporary bankers have thought to tap Wall Street lore for inspiration. Kingswood Capital Markets purchased the trademark for the name of famed brokerage EF Hutton last year so it could rebrand. Meanwhile, investment bank Independence Point Advisors jokingly used the code name “Salomon Sisters,” referencing both Wall Street history and the fact that the firm is primarily owned and managed by women and minorities.

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