NEW YORK — Steven Lipin, a journalist who turned the coverage of mergers and acquistions into a high-profile journalistic endeavor from his perch at The Wall Street Journal, is set to leave the newspaper.
Mr. Lipin, who joined the Journal as a reporter in September 1991, will join Brunswick Group, an international communications firm, as a senior partner, starting Aug. 6, the firm announced Friday.
After 15 years as a journalist, Mr. Lipin, 38 years old, who was reached while enjoying a beach vacation with his wife and children, said “I had been wanting to try something new and different.”
Few journalists reach a point where their byline becomes synonymous with the newspaper for which they work, and Mr. Lipin’s departure is tantamount to Maureen Dowd leaving the New York Times. During his time on the M&A beat, Mr. Lipin developed a reputation for ensuring that companies brought news of their transactions to the Journal first. He also takes with him an extensive rolodex of Wall Street sources whose names rarely turn up in newspaper articles.
While Mr. Lipin’s job may change, he will spend time on his new job dealing with many of the same people whose activities he has chronicled since 1995. Brunswick, says Tim Payne, a partner at the firm, expects Mr. Lipin to work with “the bankers and the lawyers doing corporate finances.” According to Mr. Lipin, Brunswick, a dominant firm in Europe, hopes to build a practice that transcends borders, a quality that is becoming more important given recent deals and near-deals involving Vivendi Universal SA (V), Lucent Technologies Inc. (LU) and Alcatel SA (ALA).
Mr. Lipin, who in May 1998 broke the news that Chrysler Corp., the nation’s third-largest auto maker, was about to merge with Germany’s Daimler Benz AG, says he came on the beat when big corporate mergers occurred less frequently and had a lot less sex appeal.
While The Wall Street Journal already had a franchise covering mergers, Mr. Lipin said, “when I took over the beat, it wasn’t that active. I had very few competitors, if any, for a while, and I had an open field to run with.”
While he had covered commercial banking and derivatives at the newspaper, he had long aspired to cover M&A, he said. “From the start, he added, “I decided I was going to work every Sunday, and really institutionalize” the coverage.
Mr. Lipin covered the beat during “the biggest merger boom ever,” said Dan Hertzberg, a deputy managing editor at The Wall Street Journal. “It was pretty hot, in terms of the sheer dollar value and the number of industries that have consolidated.” The timing was fortuitous, said Mr. Hertzberg, who covered the same beat in the 1980s, but the reporter’s talent and efforts ensured that he became “in his way, a huge player on Wall Street.”
Among Mr. Lipin’s fonder memories: breaking WorldCom Inc.’s unsolicited 1997 bid for MCI, which effectively ended a deal with British Telecom PLC, written with John Keller; chronicling Lockheed Martin’s efforts in 1996 to acquire the assets of Loral Corp., reported with Jeff Cole, a Journal aerospace editor who passed away earlier this year, and the 1995 Chase-Chemical bank merger, along with a series of other banking-industry scoops.
Mr. Lipin, who said he had wanted to work at The Wall Street Journal since college, had in the last 18 months left some of the beat’s daily grind to others. More recently, he served as the Journal’s finance editor, which meant in addition to supervising M&A coverage he also oversaw the newspaper’s “Deals & Deal Makers” page.
Barney Calame, also a deputy managing editor at the newspaper, which is owned by Dow Jones&Co. (DJ), publisher of this newswire, said the broadsheet “is extremely sorry to lose a major force like Steve Lipin.”
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