BOSTON — Putnam Lovell NBF Group Inc., an investment banker to money managers, is tangled in the loose ends of its 2002 acquisition by Montreal-based National Bank Financial Inc.
On Feb. 2, NBF executives fired the firm's co-founder and chief executive, Donald H. Putnam, citing "irreconcilable differences."
A source close to the situation, who declined to be identified, tied Mr. Putnam's abrupt dismissal to a disputed $25 million escrow account, set up when NBF acquired the firm to reward Putnam Lovell executives who stayed and met ambitious business targets.
Both NBF Executive Vice President Lawrence Haber and Putnam Lovell President John Griff declined to comment on the escrow account. However, Mr. Griff said there was no specific event that led to Mr. Putnam's departure.
In a telephone interview, Mr. Putnam praised Mr. Griff as a solid professional, but said Mr. Griff has "an elastic tolerance of the institution's (NBF's) enthusiasm for bullying its executives. I wish him well, but I can't forecast a good outcome."
He declined to comment on the reason for his dismissal.
For the record, neither Mr. Putnam nor NBF is looking back.
Mr. Putnam said he has already launched M&A advisory firm Grail Partners LLC, San Francisco, as a lean version of the industry heavyweight he helped build since 1987. Similarly, NBF'S Mr. Haber said the parent company remains fully committed to Putnam Lovell and its "great team of bankers." He noted Putnam Lovell continues to work with Mr. Putnam on a couple of deals.