has been acquired by
a member of
Financial advisor to Lebenthal & Co.
Advest, a member of The Mony Group to acquire Lebenthal
October 9, 2001 - Lebenthal & Company, a New York institution made famous by its quirky ads extolling the virtues of tax-free municipal bonds, will announce today that it is being acquired by the MONY Group.
The boards of both companies have approved the deal, which is estimated to be worth around $25 million.
Lebenthal, founded in 1925, will operate as a subsidiary with MONY's Advest Group, a Hartford-based brokerage firm that MONY acquired in August 2000. The acquisition is being made using 50 percent cash and 50 percent MONY Group stock.
Alexandra Lebenthal will stay on as president and chief executive of the Lebenthal division. She will also take on a senior management role at Advest. Her father and Lebenthal chairman, James Lebenthal, will become chairman emeritus and serve as a consultant.
Ms. Lebenthal said that merging with Advest would allow the company to grow significantly by tapping into MONY's resources. ''It's extremely difficult to run a profitable small firm in today's world with the overhead that we have and our technology needs,'' she said. ''I think we've done a great job diversifying the business, but we're limited as a smaller player."
Lebenthal, a municipal bond retailer, was started by Louis and Sayra Lebenthal as an odd-lot bond clearinghouse that made municipal bonds available to individual investors. Before then, municipal bonds were primarily owned by wealthy investors and institutions.
After a stint as an entertainment reporter and television producer, James Lebenthal returned to the family business in 1967. Over the years, he made hundreds of whimsical ads, with catchy phrases like ''Bonds are my babies'' and ''Built by Bonds,'' making Lebenthal a household name in New York. Typically, he introduced himself as Jim Lebenthal.
In 1995, he turned over the daily running of the firm to his daughter, Alexandra. Under her direction, the firm has expanded from its traditional base of municipal bonds to include stocks, mutual funds and portfolio management.
While the company is small by Wall Street standards, with only 100 employees, MONY is hoping that the Lebenthal brand name will lure investors. ''Lebenthal is very well respected and we want to take advantage of that brand name,'' said Michael I. Roth, MONY's chairman and chief executive since 1993.