Stack, Song open new government services group at Baird

Veteran government market investment bankers Jean Stack and John Song have officially joined Baird to create a new government services group.

It has been in the works for a couple of months but is now finally official. Long-time government market investment bankers Jean Stack and John Song have left Houlihan Lokey and joined Baird.

Milwaukee-headquartered Baird is a newcomer to the government. Stack, Song and fellow Houlihan Lokey alum Alex Sevilla launched the Baird Government Services Investment Banking group on Monday.

The departure of Stack and Song from Houlihan was first reported by Reuters in early December. Before Christmas, Houlihan Lokey announced it brought over John Allen and the rest of his team from Bluestone Capital Partners to re-staff Houlihan Lokey’s government group.

But at the time, no one at either of the banks commented on Stack and Song beyond what Reuters said.

That changed Wednesday morning, when Baird officially announced that Stack and Song would be managing directors and co-leads of the government services group. Sevilla was named director. They have also stood up a team to support the group, Song told me.

Stack and Song were long-time bankers at Houlihan Lokey. Stack had been with the Los Angeles-based firm for more than 20 years and Song for around 11 years.

“I think a lot of people thought we were going to hang out our own shingle,” Song said. “But we wanted to find a platform where we could have a real force multiplier.”

At Baird, they are joining an employee-owned investment bank with more than 3,000 employees worldwide.

“They have a strong partnership culture that lines up with how we’ve conducted ourselves,” he said. “They really step into the shoes of their clients.”

Baird and Houlihan are close to the same size but Baird offers other services, in particular coverage of more than 1,000 private equity firms.

“Jean and I could not maintain relationships with 1,000 funds so that is a real enhancement,” he said.

Baird also follows some 600 public technology and services companies. “That is another tool in our tool set,” Song said.

Baird has not been involved in the government market but is very active in parallel commercial sectors such as health care, software, cybersecurity and technical services.

“We are already seeing a lot of cross pollination between the commercial and government markets,” Song said.

Stack, Song and Sevilla supported 35 transactions worth $6 billion combined since 2014 at Houlihan Lokey. That includes CSRA’s acquisition of Praxis Engineering, ManTech International’s deal for InfoZen and the divestiture of the now-former Harris Corp. IT business to create Peraton.

Song was coy about when they would announce their first deal under the Baird nameplate.

“We do have several engagements so we should have something to announce in the next few months,” he said.