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March 1, 2001

Weisel Projects Growth, Denies Firm Is For Sale

By Tom De Martini

Fighting back reports that the firm is in trouble, Thomas Weisel Partners has declared it is financially strong and will expand its research coverage and trading staff.

The San Francisco-based merchant bank has taken a pounding because of the slumping IPO market, according to several published reports.

But the firm says the reports are not entirely accurate and denied the firm is for sale.

"Riddled with inaccuracies," said Amanda Duckworth, a company spokesperson, referring to the stories. "They [even] reported we had plans to go public."

"Show me where we filed the paperwork with the SEC to do that," added an infuriated Duckworth.

As a merchant bank Weisel, which specializes in technology companies, derives a large proportion of its revenues from institutional brokerage and mergers and acquisitions activities. "We act as an agent and don't raise the funds," Duckworth said.

The firm, however, is not immune from the negative turns in the IPO market, observers say. The firm fired some staff, including a group of analysts, in a makeover of its research and trading business. A reported slowdown in fourth quarter earnings and a squeeze on partners compensation at Weisel fueled the gloom.

Weisel put on a brave face, saying it will start covering an additional 100 companies and shift some of its coverage into the power sector.

Meanwhile, on the trading side, Tony Stais, formerly of Goldman Sachs, was named head of sales trading. The firm promoted Adam Tracy as head of listed trading, and Mike Meitus as head of OTC trading.