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The mergers-and-acquisitions investment banking team at Craig-Hallum has left to join with the partners at investment banking boutique Quetico Partners to form a new firm, Hennepin Partners, an 18-professionals firm focused on financial advisory services to small businesses.

The founding partners in Hennepin Partners worked at the former Goldsmith Agio Helms, which was acquired by Wall Street’s Lazard in 2007.

As Lazard migrated upward toward larger investment-banking deals, a number of partners and junior investment bankers left to strike out on their own or join with other local investment banks.

Jamie Frommelt, an Agio veteran who led Craig-Hallum’s M&A practice, said Hennepin Partners will focus on serving entrepreneurs, business owners and shareholders of small-to-midsize private and public companies of less than $250 million in value.

Frommelt was joined in the move by former Craig-Hallum M&A partners Steve Beck and Neil Weinstein.

The former Quetico partners, and Goldsmith alumni, are Jim Clancy, R.B. Kiernat and Gary O’Brien.

“This had nothing to do with Craig-Hallum,” said Frommelt, who joined Craig-Hallum from Lazard in 2012 to build an M&A practice alongside its equity-capital business. “We loved our time there. This was just a good opportunity.”

That lower-portion of the M&A market also was somewhat vacated when, in 2016, Hunt Greene and eight other partners of Greene Holcomb Fisher sold their 28-worker firm to BMO Capital Markets, part of the huge Canadian financial complex.

Greene Holcomb focused on the smaller end of the M&A business, which has been hot amid rising valuations and record numbers of mergers over the last several years.

“There has been a vacuum since Green Holcomb was acquired and before that, since Agio was acquired,” said Ty Schlobohm, managing director of the Minneapolis office of Oxford Financial Group, which advises affluent families, foundations and endowments.

Hunt Greene, a 40-year investment banker at Piper Jaffray before starting his own firm in 1995, said the Hennepin Partners leaders bet they have kindred experience and a compatible approach that will generate productivity and profits.

“If it works, it can be great,” Greene said. “At Greene Holcomb, we had a great opportunity and a great run. It’s hard sometimes to get the right formula. But if you do it on your own, it’s your company and there’s no parent company to take a slice of the action.”

Neal St. Anthony • 612-673-7144