The Gravy Train
"The greatest Dare to be Great speech ever written. It's a term of art on Wall Street for the banker's pep talk to the client to get him/her to reach for greatness in the 11th hour of a deal. You have to get this book for this alone."
—Kiki Lauren, Amazon review.
"The characterizations were wonderfully drawn and the plot was skillfully developed. Neither the characters nor the scenarios stretched the boundaries of believability."
—Bichon Mom, Amazon review.
"The Gravy Train is a great read. Lender really knows wall street. You'll find this book really gripping, and dramatic. Great build up for the story and a fantastic plot. Great read."
—BenT44, Amazon review.
"I thoroughly enjoyed Trojan Horse; The Gravy Train is even better. Similar to Trojan Horse, his characters are great. They are very human. I also found the path the story took very compelling. While I generally knew where the story was going, I never knew for certain. I even found myself trying to solve the 'problem' they were in and certainly didn't come up with anything as simple or elegant as Mr. Lender."
—Jay B., Amazon review
Novice investment banker Finn Keane lands on Wall Street during booming markets. His boss is Jack Shane, the firm’s smartest, toughest and most ruthless dealmaker. During his first deal, Finn befriends the client company’s aging Chairman, Nick Christanapoulas, who’s stepped aside to let his son-in-law take the reins for a major acquisition and financing that will catapult the regional department store chain Nick founded into the big leagues. Shane gives Finn an education on Wall Street’s methods, milking Nick’s company for fees. When the deal goes sour, Finn decides to help Nick try to buy his company back out of bankruptcy, pitted against Shane and his equally hardnosed Wall Street cronies. Finn soon finds himself in the knife-fight of his life as Shane and his team of Wall Street insiders stop at nothing to sabotage Finn and Nick’s deal so they can have their way with Nick’s company.
Book Excerpt from The Gravy Train:
Finn Keane and Kathy Fargo sat next to each other in the back of Room 12 in the McColl Building at the University of North Carolina’s Keenan-Flagar Business School. Four rows separated them from the rest of the group in the Investment Banking Club meeting. At least 25 group members attended; this evening featured Jonathan Moore, the club’s president, crowing about his recruitment process and offer to become an Associate in Goldman Sachs’ Mergers and Acquisitions Group.
Finn leaned toward Kathy and said, “If I listen to any more of this crap I’m gonna puke. Come on, let’s go get a coffee or something.”
She smiled at him, nodded and they got up and left. A few heads turned as they clunked through the theatre-style seats to the aisle, up the steps and out the door. Finn could feel eyes burning into his back. He was sure everybody in the club knew that Kathy and he were the only two who hadn’t received investment banking offers yet.
Finn held the front door to the McColl Building for Kathy as they went outside. She wasn’t a girl many guys held doors for, not much of a looker, so he knew Kathy liked it and always made sure to do it. When she’d told him she couldn’t afford to fly home to Chicago for Thanksgiving he’d brought her home to Cedar Fork. Afterwards Uncle Bob said, “Wow, she’s a big-boned one, huh?” Even before he brought her home, he could tell Kathy wanted something more between them. And a couple of times out drinking with classmates she made it clear to Finn it was there for him if he wanted it. He was always glad when he woke up sober the next day that he didn’t do it; he’d always have felt like he was taking advantage of her. He could tell she’d now settled into the knowledge it wasn’t gonna happen.
Kathy smiled and mouthed, “Thank you,” as they went outside.
“Moore was a pain in the ass before he got the offer, but now he struts around like a goddamn rooster,” Finn said.
“Yeah, but you have to admit, he landed the big one.”
Finn just nodded.
Kathy said, “I assume no change at your end or you’d have told me something.”
“We’re running out of time.”
“I know. I’m taking the TD Bank thing if nothing else comes through. At least that’ll get me to New York.”
Kathy didn’t reply. He knew what she was thinking. She’d said it before: she’d worked in New York for three years before business school and told him New York wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
“How about you?” he said.
“I guess I’ll take that internet startup my friend offered me.”
Finn nodded. She’d told him about it, but he couldn’t remember the details. Only five or six employees, he thought.
“You did computer programming before B-school, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, but they want me to be CFO. They’re all a bunch of undergrad computer science jocks. Don’t know anything about finance.”
“Sounds like it could be fun,” Finn said, knowing he didn’t sound convincing as the words came out. Nothing like that for him. If nothing in investment banking came through, he’d get to New York, then see if he could leverage the TD Bank commercial banking training program into a job on Wall Street, even if it took him a few years. That’s where he’d make it big. He looked at Kathy. “I forget. What’s the company’s name?”
“I want bodies,” Simon Buchannan said. “Give me at least thirty. Maybe forty.” He stood up and looked at his four department heads across his desk, then strode out from behind it with long Senior Managing Director strides of his six-foot six-inch frame. Buchannan took his time crossing the oversized office, wanting to seem he was looming out at his subordinates from between the skyscrapers up Park Avenue, like some avenging angel. He sat down in the semi-circle where his department heads reclined in soft chairs and a sofa around Buchannan’s coffee table.
“We’ve already hired two hundred Associates for this year’s incoming class,” the head of the Mergers & Acquisitions Group said.
“Then hire two hundred thirty or two hundred forty,” Buchannan shot back. Buchannan’s eyes accused him of incompetence.
“It’s April, Simon,” the Head of Corporate Finance said.
“Fellas, what is this?” Buchannan said and stood up. He summoned his best impatient sigh. “The markets are booming. IPOs. Converts. High Yield. Rates are low. The economy’s chugging along and corporate earnings are still going up, up, up. The entire Street’s firing on all cylinders. We need to bang this cycle until it drops.” He started pacing. “Bang it. Bang it hard. And BofA Merrill Lynch is still number one. You saw the first quarter underwriting statistics. I wanna beat these guys in equity offerings this year, give us a couple more years to catch them in debt underwritings, and in another year or two we’ll take on Goldman Sachs for number one in the M&A rankings.” He stopped and looked at his department heads, disappointed they didn’t seem to be summoning some urge to go out and win one for the Gipper. Maybe they were all immune to him by now because he intentionally acted so crazy and made himself so scary-looking half the time. But Buchannan meant it. He wanted to win.
“Simon, it’s April,” his head of Corporate Finance, John “Stinky” Bates, reminded him again.
“So it’s fucking April.”
“Yes, it’s fucking April and all the top kids from all the top business schools are gone. We’ve milked Harvard, Stanford, Kellogg, Wharton, Chicago, all of them dry.”
“So get me lateral hires from other firms. Dip down to the second tier business schools, hell, go to the third tier if you have to, just get me the bodies. Or it’s my ass.”
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