In his more than 20 years as a shipping-focused investment banker, Chris Weyers has run across the senior financiers at AMA Capital Partners on deals more than once.

Impressed as he was with their abilities, there was something else that struck him: their number, which was five. Well, make that six.

Because Weyers quietly left his job of 11 years at investment bank Stifel in February, and after a bit of gardening leave has joined the staff of the Connecticut-based boutique bank as the sixth managing director.

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Weyers now teams with chief executive Paul Leand, Peter Shaerf, Kevin O’Hara, Jim Dolphin and Michael Dockman.

The new colleagues met exclusively with Streetwise at AMA’s Stamford offices this week to discuss the well-known banker’s move and what it may mean going forward.

“There’s six managing directors of AMA, which is one of the things that impressed me,” Weyers said.

“I mean six that know marine and asset-heavy transportation. That’s really the entire focus. It’s a real platform. No one that I know of has six bankers. Evercore has two and it’s kind of amazing that they’re even able to have two.

“But there’s no one on the advisory side that has the senior-level expertise that AMA does. There’s an ability to be really hands on.”

Stifel of course is a bigger operation overall, but Weyers was the only banker dedicated to maritime business, and it has been that way ever since he left the now-defunct Bear Stearns in 2006.

“I’ve been a transportation banker my entire career and I’ve known AMA for a long time,” Weyers said.

“We’ve worked together on a few transactions and I’ve always had a lot of respect for the partners here. I feel it’s a really good fit for me. I’ve wanted to join a smaller platform where I wasn’t the only marine guy. I feel like with this platform we can do a whole lot.”

While AMA’s core focus has been on restructuring and financing, Weyers brings expertise in mergers and acquisitions and advisory services.

“It’s a good fit to work for what I consider the leading restructuring platform and hopefully help make it the leading M&A platform,” he said.

Leand also sees a complementary fit, noting that AMA’s traditional focus since its founding in 1987 has been on the creditor side.

“We cut our teeth on representing the creditor, and Chris really helps to round out the principal and company side,” Leand said.

“He brings a lot to the table to round out our platform, to fill some of the gaps we have, and that’s very exciting to us. And it happens to come at a time when there are a lot more opportunities on the company side.”

Shaerf projected that Weyers “will help us reach significantly into the capital markets and people who have been exposed to that space”, including institutional investors, infrastructure funds and private equity funds.

Four of the six AMA Capital Partners managing directors: (from left) Chris Weyers, Peter Shaerf, Paul Leand and Kevin O’Hara. Photo: Joe Brady

Having experience at Bear Stearns, Fortis Securities and FBR Capital Markets prior to joining Stifel in April 2012, Weyers has worked on more than 100 public and private debt and equity transactions raising over $30bn in capital.

He also has advised on more than 40 M&A deals with an aggregate value exceeding $25bn.

Born in the Big Apple

AMA was founded in New York in 1987 and moved from Manhattan to Stamford in 2021. The bank has worked across sectors including dry bulk, container and tanker shipping, the Jones Act market, cruise, offshore oil, offshore wind, rail, ports and infrastructure.

Weyers said he was limited in his ability to discuss his departure from Stifel and that bank’s position in the maritime sector moving forward, other than noting that veteran shipping analyst Ben Nolan remains in place.

“I do think marine is going to become less of a focus for the firm,” Weyers said. “Banking and research are different of course, decisions are made independently by each group. But Ben and I were perfectly aligned in our coverage and I think he’s a great analyst. I do not believe there’s a plan for me to be replaced.”

As for AMA, there may be less of its trademark restructuring work around at the moment, but Leand foresees more need for strength in M&A deals, which he said makes Weyers’ hire well-timed.

“We’ve done a lot of M&A work, but it’s always been through the lens of coming into a restructuring and driving that process from the creditor’s perspective to make sure people got value,” he said.

“Now with Chris on board, we’ll be better prepared to take on M&A roles on behalf of the companies themselves.”

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