June 12, 2012
Schiff Hardin LLP, one of America’s oldest law firms, announced today its continuing national expansion to the second-largest financial center in the United States, Charlotte, N.C., with its choice of Charlotte as the national headquarters for Schiff Hardin Strategic Advisers, LLC, the firm’s new business advisory affiliate, and as the city for its newest law office.
Schiff Hardin Strategic Advisers, LLC (“Strategic Advisers”) is a non-legal business advisory affiliate of the law firm. Strategic Advisers is led by 32-year Charlotte resident, Robert D. Piontek, Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chairman of the company. Prior to joining Strategic Advisers, Piontek served in executive finance, leadership and strategic roles with the Bank of America (formerly NCNB), Wachovia Corporation (formerly First Union Corporation) as Treasurer of its Investment Bank, and as a partner with KPMG Capital Markets and Investment Banking Consulting in Charlotte and New York City.
Long-time Charlotte area resident, Stephen J. Antal, who previously served in a number of executive legal and leadership positions in the financial services industry both in Chicago and New Jersey, as well as in Charlotte as General Counsel of First Charter Corporation and a senior lawyer with the Wachovia Corporation (formerly First Union Corporation), is President of Schiff Hardin Strategic Advisers, LLC. Antal also leads Schiff Hardin LLP’s new Charlotte law office.
Piontek remarked, “Schiff Hardin’s national footprint, nearly 150-year history and long-standing success in the financial services industry create a strong foundation from which to build and leverage a strategic advisory business. The firm’s commitment and vision to think and act creatively in how to deliver value to its long-standing trusted client relationships impressed me, and I cannot think of a better place than Charlotte to headquarter Strategic Advisers as we grow this company nationwide.”
“Schiff Hardin’s rich history in serving the financial services market allows Strategic Advisers to grow non-legal business advisory services nationally under a wholly dedicated affiliate that will bring a laser focus to the challenges facing our mid-sized and community banks. Making the full array of services of each of our two firms available to the clients of each firm sets us apart from any other business of this kind in the country,” added Piontek.
“The move into the Charlotte market represents the natural extension of the firm’s core services in corporate finance, securities, financial services, and mergers and acquisitions,” said Antal. “Schiff Hardin’s existing legal platform, complemented by the launch of the advisory affiliate, is an ideal place for me to nurture and grow the banking relationships I have established over my 30-year career.”
This is the second time that Antal and Piontek have joined forces, having previously worked closely at the Wachovia Corporation during its strategic growth years of the 1990s.
Strategic Advisers will complement Schiff Hardin’s national bank restructuring and recapitalization practice led by Christopher J. Zinski, a Schiff Hardin partner and leader of the firm’s Financial Institutions Group. Additionally, Zinski will serve as Chairman of Strategic Advisers.
“The balance sheet and regulatory distress affecting many banks in the United States offer the opportunity to provide comprehensive strategic solutions to banks and bank holding companies, contributing both the skills and know-how of the law firm and the C-suite experience and business acumen of the senior leadership of Strategic Advisers,” notes Zinski.
“Likewise, private equity firms have long looked to Schiff Hardin for legal advice and strategic ideas as they construct models that seize the market opportunities in the financial services arena. Strategic Advisers will supplement the law firm’s private equity capabilities as funds look to Schiff Hardin in the execution of their growth plans. It’s a compelling model and one we are proud to establish in Charlotte as our headquarters,” concludes Zinski.
Strategic Advisers will operate a Chicago office in addition to its Charlotte national headquarters.
Ronald S. Safer, Managing Partner of Schiff Hardin LLP, said of the law firm’s growth and diversification: “Charlotte is a major financial center like New York City and Chicago, where we already have a substantial presence. Committing to grow an office and our legal business in Charlotte, with its substantial financial services companies and robust commercial activity, leverages Schiff Hardin’s core competencies in corporate finance, securities, financial services, and mergers and acquisitions—areas that have distinguished our law firm for decades.”
“Strategic Advisers represents a natural step in the development of strategic advisory services that will differentiate us in solving our client’s most complex business problems and helping them seize their most exciting strategic growth initiatives. Bob Piontek is an established industry leader and we are excited that an executive of his caliber, as CEO of Strategic Advisers, will lead this unique expansion, addressing the needs of financial services companies,” said Safer.
While building upon its core professional staff with the addition of experienced industry leaders, Strategic Advisers will complement its financial restructuring capabilities through alliances with leading accounting, investment banking, loan valuation, regulatory and joint venture firms. By leveraging some of the industry’s leading providers, Strategic Advisers is able to assemble for its clients the very “best of class” toward solving some of their most complex issues. Schiff Hardin LLP and Schiff Hardin Strategic Advisers, LLC were assisted by Charlotte’s Jack Glasgow, Managing Partner of Mohr Partners, in its local property selection.