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Boutique investment dealer Versant Partners took a big step forward in the oil patch on Tuesday by joining forces with Calgary-based Petersen Capital .

The merger of these two employee-owned firms, under the Versant name, gives the combined dealer additional heft and greater strength in energy investment banking and research.

Founded in 2008, Peterson Capital is run by RBC Dominion and Cormark Securities corporate finance veteran Brian Petersen. He will be president and head of investment banking at Versant.

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"Versant is committed to building an energy practice and we're excited to enter the sector with a strong team led by veteran banker Brian Petersen," said CEO Mike Jams in a press release. The oil patch has traditionally been an excellent market for equity-focused independent dealers, as small cap corporate clients value the deals they are shown by bankers, are frequent sellers of stock, and have relatively little need for credit, which only larger investment banks can offer.

Separately, Versant also added oil and gas analyst Mark Friesen to the ranks. He will be based in Calgary and cover mid- and large-cap oil and gas companies. Mr. Friesen was at TD Securities, FirstEnergy and BMO Nesbitt Burns.

In a nod you don't normally see from investment banks, Versant gave credit to Brent Ludwig, of Ludwig Financial Recruitment in Calgary, for advising on the union and successful courtship of its new analyst.

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Business Columnist

Andrew Willis is a business columnist for the Report on Business at The Globe and Mail, based in Toronto.He has been in business communications and journalism for three decades. More

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