Ipreo COO on why company chose Raleigh for new office: 'You go where the talent is'

dbracken@newsobserver.comAugust 13, 2013 

Editor's note: This story about Ipreo opening an office in Raleigh incorrectly identified Kevin Marcus as the company's CEO. Marcus is the president and chief operating officer.

Ipreo describes itself as a place where Wall Street meets Silicon Valley.

The Triangle is a fair distance from both those places, but that didn’t prevent the New York data and technology firm from picking Raleigh as the site of a new office that is expected to employ 250 people by 2017.

In April, Ipreo was awarded a state incentives package that could be worth $3.8 million if it meets job-creation and investment targets. The company has since leased office space in the Bank of America building downtown and expects to move into its newly renovated space in the coming weeks.

Although Ipreo is little known outside of Wall Street, the company plays an integral part in the capital markets, helping investment banks with the issuance of new securities – both debt and equity – and advising publicly traded companies about the market dynamics making their stocks move.

The company is owned by the private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, which acquired Ipreo for an undisclosed sum in 2011.

Ipreo has already hired more than 30 people locally and expects to fill nearly 50 positions in marketing, sales, client services and IT by the end of the year. The company has also begun recruiting its first class of junior analysts from local universities, which is expected to include between 10 and 15 recent graduates.

Ipreo president and chief operating officer Kevin Marcus, 42, was in Raleigh last week to talk about the company’s business and its decision to open an office in Raleigh. The following excerpts from his interview have been edited for space and clarity.

On the two types of Ipreo’s customers: “The bigger part of our business sells to investment banks globally. ... Basically, any bank that’s involved in the process of creating new securities would be on our software. And then any bank that is looking to understand the investment community better would want our data. ... Separately, we work with public companies’ investor relations departments. ... Public companies are very good at their own businesses but aren’t necessarily experienced in the capital markets, and that’s where our expertise comes in. We have people we hire and train to really help our clients understand what’s happening in the public markets.”

On the type of advisory work Ipreo does: “We’re pulling in bits of data and information from different places, but we need to put it all together and paint a picture for our clients to make heads or tails of it. Just the fact that my stock’s trading down today, OK, that’s one data point. Maybe there was heavy trading, that’s another. What’s happening in my peer companies that I track and what investors own me and how are they behaving, what are we hearing from traders, from hedge funds? ... We try to really think less about what data do we have that we could give to our clients and more about what do our clients do and how could we build out software and data around them.”

On Ipreo’s competitors: “There’s nobody else who does exactly what we do, but we do compete in some areas with in-house [operations]; we compete in some areas with the big data providers like Thomas [Reuters] and Bloomberg.”

On how the business has fared over the past five years: “In 2008, everybody slowed – I don’t care who you were. But in more traditional downturns, we actually are fairly well covered. For example, in a good equity market there are a lot more IPOs going on as is happening now. But let’s just say the equity markets were to turn south. Investors would then say ‘I’m going to more of a safe-haven security,’ and that’s muni bonds. Well, we do muni-bond issuances, so we’re kind of hedged naturally because we help across all different security types.”

On revenues: “For the last several years, we’ve grown top and bottom line (revenues and net income) by double digits. We believe we can continue to do that in a tough market by taking market share.”

On plans for an Ipreo IPO: “There are no distinct plans to go public or anything else other than to operate the business at this point. Clearly, at some point our owners are going to need to sell, but that’s true with just about any business.”

On new banking regulations: “We need to react to and respond and sometimes get ahead of changing regulatory environment and how our clients make money. When you think about the drastic changes in the investment banking industry from a regulatory perspective and how they make money – their world has been turned on its head.”

On why the company chose Raleigh: “We are a technology and information company, and we rely heavily on the talent we are looking to attract. ... We’re here more than any other reason because there’s talent here. There’s a great education system. There is great technology talent in general. We’re here to really help us sustain our growth in a manageable way. You go where the talent is. ... We also wanted a place where our people wanted to live. We have some 70 people committed to moving here from the D.C. and the New York areas. ... We offered our employees options to move, and so many more than we even planned took it. That was a big thing for us – lifestyle and general quality of life.”

On incentives and the recruitment process: “A lot of what attracted us to begin with was just, frankly, they wanted to have us here. The state, and then the region, and then the city all did a great job in making us feel like we were wanted here. It’s not an ego and emotional thing. ... You go where you’re wanted not ’cause it makes you feel good but because you know you’re going to be supported, and we’ve seen that.”

Bracken: 919-829-4548

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