In the latest bow to Northern Virginia's high-technology prowess, Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown has decided to open a major office in Tysons Corner for its $1 billion U.S. investment-banking business and has hired a leading D.C.-based corporate lawyer to run it.
George P. Stamas will leave his job as co-chairman of the corporate department at the Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering firm to head the office, which will initially have a staff of about 30. He will also oversee the firm's investment banking operations in the mid-Atlantic region.
The switch by Stamas from the top rung of a blue-chip Washington law firm to a new career in Northern Virginia's technology market is another benchmark of that industry's rapid evolution, according to his friends and associates.
"He's the preeminent deal lawyer in this area," said Ed Mathias, a principal of the Carlyle Group, a D.C.-based private investment firm. And it's no secret where the biggest, most exciting deals are coming from, he said.
Alex. Brown, the venerable Baltimore-based investment firm, has deep roots in the Washington area's technology sector--it took America Online Inc. public in 1992. But it has never had a permanent base in the Washington area. Now it will, bringing with it resources of Germany's largest financial institution, Stamas said.
"It's the first stronghold, the first flag planted" by a major investment banking enterprise from outside the region, said Stamas, 48. The commitment by the bank to the region "was the basis for my willingness to come on," he said.
"We were an area with a lot of activity and no infrastructure," Mathias said. "Now [that] is developing."
Stamas's new boss, Mayo A. Shattuck III, co-chairman of New York-based Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown, said that the potential of the Washington region's technology sector is still hard to assess.
"Right now, it ranks at the bottom of the top five regional areas [behind] San Francisco and Northern California, Boston and New York," Shattuck said, but he added that business here is "exploding."
"Conceivably [the region] could be one of the top two to [top] three concentrated areas in investment banking activity for the next five years to 10 [years]," he said. "The more people we have on the ground, the more impact we're going to have."
The choice of Stamas was a natural one, Shattuck said.
Stamas has represented Danaher Corp., the D.C.-based industrial conglomerate, and Metrocall Inc. in Alexandria, which has become one of the nation's largest paging and messaging firms through rapid acquisitions. He also has worked with Jonathan J. Ledecky, founder of U.S. Office Products Co. in the District and represented Ledecky and AOL executive Ted Leonsis in their purchase of the Washington Capitals.
"He's going to create a frenzy of activity. There's no question about that. He knows everybody," Mathias said.
"I call him 'reef'--you know, plant life grows around it, lots of fish swim around it," Leonsis said. "He's been involved in so many deals."
Stamas did not say where his office will be located in Tysons Corner. He called that area a symbol of the region's technology expansion, but added the bank will look for deals along the Washington-Baltimore corridor as well. "There's obviously a lot of dynamic activity up and down [Interstate] 270," he said, "and I don't think the river represents some kind of boundary."
CAPTION: George Stamas is to lead the office.