You can say goodbye to one more relic left over from the great tech boom of the late 1990s.
announced late Friday that it intends to shut its
investment banking division after failing to finding a buyer for the firm and plans for a management buyout fell apart.
For the past few weeks, the two sides had been negotiating a buyout in which the managers at the investment bank would reportedly have given up between $100 million and $200 million in deferred compensation.
Fleet is expected to take a charge against earnings for closing down Robertson Stephens when its reports earnings on Monday. Fleet, at the height of the tech stock boom, paid some $800 million to buy the once-hot boutique investment firm.
Employees at the San Francisco-based investment bank, which is best known for underwriting the initial public offering for the online brokerage
, were told of Fleet's decision earlier in the day.
The firm, which employs about 850 people in San Francisco and New York, is expected to shut down on Monday. At the height of the bull market, Robertson Stephens had more than 1,500 employees.
Officials at the investment bank declined to comment, except to confirm the announcement.
A source says that John Conlin, the investment firm's chief executive, broke the news to employees in an emotional meeting. Conlin, the source says, gave a speech in which he said the investment bank did not have to be shut down and that the firm would have survived if Fleet hadn't decided to exit the investment banking business.
In a prepared statement, Fleet's Chief Financial Officer Eugene McQuade said, "we have decided a wind down is in the best interest of our shareholders."