After all the hoopla and a highly publicized internal battle to go public, shares of

Lazard

(LAZ) - Get Report

were a bit of a dud Thursday, on their first day of trading.

Lazard's stock was recently 3% below the $25 offering price, at $24.25. The offering of the 157-year-old investment bank's shares, which priced last night, raised about $855 million.

The IPO came in at the low end of the $25- to $27-a-share range that Lazard had been banking on when it filed to go public last December.

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The Lazard IPO was one of the most eagerly anticipated in the financial services sector in several years. Lazard is the largest investment firm to go public since

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report

in 1999.

Much of the proceeds from the offering will be used by Lazard to buy out the equity interests of the firm's historical partners. Goldman was the lead underwriter on the deal.

The public offering is the culmination of a long battle by Bruce Wasserstein, the firm's leader, to take the company public. Over the years, Wasserstein has gained a reputation for being an aggressive investment banker. In the 1980s, his brass-knuckles style of corporate deal-making earned him the nickname "Bid 'em Up Bruce."

Lazard, which specializes in mergers and acquisitions work, is a worldwide firm. But its main offices are in Paris, New York and London.