Donald H. Putnam
Managing partner, San Francisco office, Grail Partners LLC, Boston
Donald Putnam has done it all: He's been a designer of investment strategies, a mutual fund founder and an investment banker. Now he is a merchant banker, straddling the line between advice giver and investment manager.
Grail's website likens the process of finding good investment managers and managing the complexities of mergers to the way truffle pigs use their sense of smell to find buried treasure.
The list of deals Mr. Putnam spearheaded includes some of the major deals in money management over the past 20 years: Deutsche Bank AG's acquisition of Zurich Scudder Investments Inc.; the sale of Citigroup Asset Management to Legg Mason Inc.; the sale of Miller Anderson & Sherrerd LLP to Morgan Stanley and, more recently, that bank's acquisition of hedge fund manager FrontPoint Partners LLC.
FrontPoint's former CEO Phil Duff said: When we sold FrontPoint, Don's role in the process was less about negotiation with Morgan Stanley throughout the course of making the deal and more about keeping together the hodgepodge of investment management teams we had assembled. Mr. Duff now is CEO of Duff Capital Advisors LLC, Greenwich. Conn.
Jeremy Grantham, chairman of GMO LLC, Boston, said his firm has leaned fairly heavily on Mr. Putnam for advice over the years, when considering various options. We usually had Don Putnam take us through the process, said Mr. Grantham, who called the investment banker dangerously bright and very effective.
Final words: The basic job is the same as when I started at the age of 21 and was inventing quantitative strategies and finding the answers to the same questions: "Where does it hurt? How can we fix this? How can we make this work?' Mr. Putnam said.
Since I've gotten older, I've added a question: "Where's it all going?'