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August 31, 2003

Southern California's Research Player

By Staff Reports

Another specialized investment banking operation has thrown in the towel, deciding to merge with one of its rivals. B. Riley & Co., a Los Angeles-based institutional research firm, is merging with Friend & Company, an investment banking firm that has specialized in the small-cap banking market.

Friend will become a division of B. Riley and Co., making it one of Southern California's biggest independent research firms, Riley officials said. Riley tries to focus on small to mid-sized companies that are ignored by bigger Wall Street firms. Riley officials added that all of Friend's employees and principals will be retained in the merged firm.

"We continue to see the West Coast investment banking market contract as competitors shut down or exit as a result of industry consolidation or poor business models," according to Gregory Presson, chairman and chief executive of Friend & Company. "This combination makes us well positioned to fill the significant void in the small-to-mid cap market."