Jefferies, Free of the Restraints of Bigger Banks, Is Emboldened


Under the leadership of Richard Handler, Jefferies had the best stock performance of any investment bank through 2012. CreditPeter Foley/Bloomberg

When the activist investor Carl C. Icahn bought 15 percent of the organic and natural products maker Hain Celestial in 2010, the company’s chief turned for advice to Mr. Icahn’s own Wall Street banker, Richard Handler, the chief executive of the investment bank Jefferies.

When Mr. Icahn decided to sell that stake at a big profit three years later, Jefferies was the buyer. It quickly resold the shares to its clients in two bites for a total of $611 million.

In the six years since regulators forced Wall Street banks to rein in risk-taking, Jefferies has emerged with an appetite for risk and a set of relationships to rival bigger Wall Street firms. It never took federal bailout money. Now, as a subsidiary of the conglomerate Leucadia National, Jefferies is not subject to the trading restrictions and capital requirements imposed on other investment banks that did take bailout funds and became part of bank holding companies. That gives it room to make bolder moves than some of its larger peers…

Jefferies, Free of the Restraints of Bigger Banks, Is Emboldened

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