A Chicago-based investment banking and asset management firm is opening a Charlotte office, starting with a group that handles deals in the aerospace, defense and government services sector.

William Blair said Thursday that it hired a team led by managing director Gordie Vap that also includes vice presidents Andrew Kugajevsky and Josh Ollek. The three had previously worked at BlackArch Partners, an investment bank founded in Charlotte in 2010 and purchased by Alabama-based Regions Financial in 2015.

Charles Watson, a William Blair veteran and Charlotte-area native, will also be based in the new office. He covers the Southeast for William Blair’s investment banking financial sponsor group.

“William Blair is always looking to improve our investment banking team’s capabilities by adding quality teams and individuals with expertise in sectors that will add value for our clients,” Brent Gledhill, William Blair’s global head of investment banking, said in a statement.

Vap and his team have advised more than 30 companies on deals in the aerospace, defense and government services sector, William Blair said.

For years, Charlotte has been a hub for boutique investment banks that largely advise mid-sized companies on mergers and acquisitions. Among them, the founders of BlackArch Partners previously started a firm called Edgeview Partners that’s now part of Piper Jaffray, and former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl Jr. founded a firm called McColl Partners that is now part of Deloitte.


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