For Shawn D. Baldwin, the concept of diversification means going global. In 2006, the Chairman of the investment banking and investment management firm, Capital Management Group went East—the Middle East to be exact in search of expanding markets and lucrative structuring and advisory work.
INVESTMENT BANKER SHAWN BALDWIN HEADS EAST— WORDS: ANNA OWENS THE MIDDLE EAST
ALL THE RIGHT
Baldwin views diversity as a global perspective and decided that he needed to expand beyond the IPO investment banking business he built in the U.S. capital markets and go abroad — much like his business idol, the late Reginald F Lewis. We first featured Capital Management . Group (CMG) in 2002 and honored Baldwin at the NV Awards for his entrepreneurship. In less than four years, CMG underwrote an astounding $63 billion dollars in 72 IPO transactions for companies such as General Electric, Citigroup, Google and the New York Stock Exchange right alongside with seasoned investment banks Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Lazard. In the Google offering CMG was twice as large as Lazard and nearly three times larger than Deutsche Bank. “The velocity of new issue equity was astounding for the period, the markets were moving at an unsustainable pace,” says Baldwin. “We were doing every deal we could because I knew that the eventually the business would fall off dramatically in the industry. I spent so much time on planes and I was on the go so much I acquired a new nickname — R.F or “Rif” which . was short for “Rocket Fuel.” Baldwin’s business was so robust that he was named a Top 40 Investment Banker Under 40 by Investment Dealers Digest in 2006. Although they were financially good times as Baldwin’s deal velocity and presence drew national attention in other media magazines along with a 2006 ad campaign for the BlackBerry wireless handheld device in which he became the national financial spokesperson complete with full page ads in Fortune, Forbes, Businessweek and an online video commercial to boot. Baldwin also stated that he drew a fair share of critics who were unhappy with what they saw as his “excessive” coverage -- a point
he warns other to be wary of. Baldwin decided he wanted to be in an arena that wouldn’t be crowded with animosity or “bias.” So in search of opportunity Baldwin who went to Doha, Qatar for an invite-only special forum created by Steve Forbes on his birthday, February the 26th. It was in Doha that Forbes introduced Baldwin to the Emir (King) of Qatar along with his wife, Sheikha Mozah and one of their daughters. Baldwin struck an emotional chord with the Emir when he stated that Qatar should have its’ own conferences and that the focus should be Qatari nationalism and repatriation of capital. The Emir then challenged him on the spot to do something, and not be one of the many bankers coming to sell deals to the Qatari nationals and then after a few weeks stay in the luxurious Four Seasons depart back to points abroad with Qatari cash following by wire. A fast mover by nature, Baldwin saw an opportunity and decided to grab it. Baldwin under the Emir’s advice decided that he would host an international conference. In less than 70 days on May 18th, this conference was held under the patronage of the Minister of Finance and attracted American investment managers who oversee over $500 billion to Qatar. The conference also featured preeminent British investment banker, Lord Jacob Rothschild, as a speaker along with prominent U.S. plans sponsors and all of the Qatari Sovereign funds, banks and insurance companies. The conference was covered by CNBC and seen as a great success. “In my mind, I essentially had received a command by the Emir to perform,” says Baldwin. “I decided that sole focus on U.S. capital markets was a potential liability -- in my view it was evident that the Middle East was flush with cash
and was only going to become more liquid in the future. I made the decision that CMG was going to be there.” Baldwin also made two other assumptions: he figured that the 15 hour plane ride and cultural differences were going to be more than his fellow investment bankers would be willing to bear and that the combination of the two hurdles would give him a significant early mover advantage. Baldwin then set out to do what he did with his U.S. investment bank — meet all of the respective players, forge new relationships and arm the team with those relationships. He then indoctrinated his team with a new focus: Islamic Finance. The CMG transaction team began reading and researching every Islamic finance transaction and compiling reports from both capital markets and legal perspectives. Baldwin then decided to augment his knowledge base. So he began and completed a master’s in financial strategy with his thesis focus on Islamic finance — in one year — at 800-year-old Oxford University’s Said School of Business. Baldwin is now completing a new fund, which has the three top finance professors from Harvard, Wharton and Oxford. The initial investor is one of the 50 wealthiest families in the world and will seed more than $300 million. Baldwin is tight-lipped about the alternative investment strategy and further details stating only that it will utilize his considerable rolodexes and investment banking acumen. When we pressed him for details we were greeted with a smile and “Stay tuned.” With Baldwin we can be sure that whatever strategy CMG follows its’ trajectory will require lots of fuel. nv