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Oppenheimer Holdings


Oppenheimer Holdings

Oppenheimer Holdings

Banks and investments


Oppenheimer Holdings is an American multinational independent investment bank and financial services company offering investment banking, financial advisory services, capital markets services, asset management, wealth management, and related products and services worldwide. The company, which once occupied the One World Financial Center building in Manhattan, now bases its operations at 85 Broad Street in New York City.


Originally created as Oppenheimer & Company, Oppenheimer Holdings was founded in 1950 when a partnership was created to act as a broker-dealer and manage related financial services for large institutional clients. While the 1960s and 1970s was a time of great prosperity for the company, the origins of the firm trace back to 1881. After re-configuring operations in 1975, Oppenheimer & Co. formed three operating subsidiaries:

  • Oppenheimer & Co. Inc., a retail brokerage firm
  • Oppenheimer Capital Corporation, an institutional investment manager

Oppenheimer Management Corp. (subsequently spun off and acquired by Invesco)In the 1980s, OpCo founding partners began looking for a buyer. Mercantile House Holdings, PLC, a publicly owned British corporation, made an offer in 1982, which was accepted and closed a year later. In 1986, a majority interest was bought in Oppenheimer & Co. and Oppenheimer Capital by the firm's management, Chairman and CEO Stephen Robert and president Nathan Gantcher, along with a small group of their colleagues from Mercantile, for $150 million. A year later, British & Commonwealth Holdings, PLC, acquired Mercantile. The 1990s brought another separation of the original firm when Oppenheimer Capital's senior personnel acquired a majority interest in the subsidiary and separated from OpCo.

In 1995, Robert and Gantcher, who controlled about 40 percent of OpCo's equity, became eager to locate additional capital to grow their firm. At first, OpCo explored options of forming a possible alliance with ING Groep NV that eventually fell through. Carrying on with this goal, management set out to merge with a bulge bracket bank that had access to the foreign markets.

Robert and Gantcher entertained offers from the second-largest private German financial institution and retail bank, Bayerische Vereinsbank. On May 8, 1997, The Wall Street Journal announced that Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank Corp. was in talks to buy Oppenheimer & Co. for about $500 million in cash, stock, and options. Despite that, according to the article's source, PNC and Oppenheimer hadn't arrived at a fixed price and that chatter could break the formal agreement. 13 days following the announcement, the Bloomberg News desk announced that for the third time in two years, OpCo had been abandoned by a prospective buyer. Two months later, it was announced that CIBC wanted to expand its brokerage business and was interested in Oppenheimer.

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