NEW YORK — Financo Inc. has named former Merrill Lynch investment banker William S. Susman as president and chief operating officer, WWD has learned.
Susman becomes the second in command at Financo, the boutique investment banking firm focused on the retail and merchandising sectors and led by Gilbert H. Harrison, its chairman, chief executive and founder.
The 40-year-old Susman succeeds Bill Smith, who left last July to partner with venture capitalist Christopher Burch.
Susman will be responsible for directing all of Financo’s advisory services on merger and acquisitions, private capital raising, restructuring and private equity investing. He’ll also contribute to establishing relationships with clients and bringing in business, strategic and financing assignments and executing transactions.
“He was the first person I called after Bill Smith told me he was leaving,” Harrison said. “I called him the next day. He’s known for getting the deal done.”
Susman has over 15 years of investment banking experience, most recently heading up Merrill Lynch’s retail and consumer products investment banking arm, where he advised such firms as Neiman Marcus; Sears, Roebuck; Nike, and Target..
Prior to Merrill, he was a senior member of the investment banking team at Salomon Brothers Inc., where he focused on global transportation clients and was involved in transactions and developing client relationships.
“He’s an experienced deal guy and he knows our industry,” said Hal Upbin, chairman and ceo of Kellwood Co., which on occasion has been advised by Susman.
Asked why he decided to shift from the world of big financial institutions to a boutique banking firm, Susman replied: “I felt after 15-plus years, I wanted the opportunity to work in a more hands-on, entrepreneurial organization, and to really be able to make a difference in a company with a very client-centric culture.”
Susman acknowledged that, after the phone call from Harrison, he didn’t race to join Financo because he wanted some time to reflect on his options, and Harrison interviewed about 20 other candidates. However, Susman added, “I’ve known Gilbert for awhile. We have a shared vision and a common goal.”Among the objectives: “To move Financo to the next level by increasing the number of transactions done on an annual basis and increasing the deal size, while maintaining independence and the hands-on approach,” Susman said.
Harrison said he expects industry consolidation to accelerate. “As larger companies become scarcer, you will see a number of midtier companies up for sale and new companies emerging. We will also see private equity firms becoming much bigger players.”
Given the climate for consolidation, Harrison said he’s beefing up his team. “It’s important for me to bring on young, trained, seasoned investment bankers,” he noted. “Absolutely, we will be hiring at the managing director, director and vice president levels.”
Financo has a total of 25 banking and restructuring professionals, and has assembled a pool of 18 consultants working on freelance assignments, including the recent additions of Hal Kahn, former chairman and ceo of Macy’s East; Gail Cook, former group president at Liz Claiborne; Linda Beauchamp, a former Donna Karan and Susan Dell executive, and Alan Kane, a professor of retailing at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business and a former retailer.
Another Financo unit, the Mercantile Capital Partners private equity fund for investing in merchandising companies is run by Antoine Treuille and Edward Harrison, Gilbert’s son.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye