Scott Joseph Adelson (born c. 1960) is an American entrepreneur and investment banker. Since 2013, he's served as Co-President of Houlihan Lokey, a leading global investment bank with expertise in M&A, capital markets, financial restructuring, and financial and valuation advisory. Adelson also serves as Global Co-Head of Corporate Finance at Houlihan Lokey and is an active member of its board of directors.
Adelson began working at Houlihan Lokey in 1987. His focus has always been on corporate finance, which includes mergers and acquisitions, debt and equity capital issues, and leveraged buyouts. He works out of the firm's Los Angeles office.
Adelson is also a co-owner of Antica Terra Vineyard and Winery, an Oregon wine estate based on multiple expressions of pinot noir. In addition, he owns private retail and apparel companies and serves as a director on the board of several public and private companies and nonprofits. He is also involved with several philanthropic organizations.
Early life and education
Adelson was born and raised in Los Angeles. He received a bachelor's degree in business and entrepreneurship from the University of Southern California in 1984. In 1987, he received an MBA in finance and marketing from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Adelson had already begun his career as an entrepreneur before earning his MBA. He started apparel and food sector businesses as a young man. After gaining his MBA, he sold the businesses and moved into investment banking, joining Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin in 1987. However, he didn't totally leave entrepreneurship behind. He has since bought, and still owns, several middle-market companies across various sectors, including apparel and food.
At Houlihan Lokey, Adelson focused on corporate finance, which was then a new service the firm offered. By 1998, he was named the head of the firm's Corporate Finance department. Two years later, he became Global Co-Head of Corporate Finance. He joined the firm's board of directors in 2006 and became co-president in 2013, which is his current position.
In his role as Co-President, Adelson has overseen more than 500 transactions. In December 2021, he participated in the firm's acquisition of GCA Corporation. The acquisition, which was for $595 million, was the firm's largest acquisition to date. GCA Corporation is based in Tokyo, and the acquisition significantly expanded Houlihan Lokey's European and Asian presence, adding 500 employees and 24 new locations.
In addition to GCA Corporation, Adelson has been a key player behind several other acquisitions that have helped Houlihan Lokey grow exponentially and become a global industry leader. For example, in 1996, Adelson helped drive Houlihan Lokey's acquisition of Mergerstat Holdings, which tracked U.S. and European merger and acquisition activity. Later, in 2003, Adelson led Houlihan Lokey's sale of Mergerstat to FactSet Research Systems Inc., a business data analytics firm based in Norwalk, Connecticut.
Other Acquisitions That Adelson Led at Houlihan Lokey:
Over the past two decades, Adelson has led several other Houlihan Lokey acquisitions, including:
- ArchPoint Partners, an independent investment banking firm, in March 2014. ArchPoint Partners provided financial advisory services primarily to U.S. media and technology companies.
- MESA Securities, an investment bank that focused heavily on digital media and entertainment, in 2015.
- McQueen Ltd., an independent advisory firm in London, in 2015. McQueen was a leading corporate finance advisor for businesses in the European consumer sector.
- The operations of Leonardo & Co. GmbH, a Lucerne, Switzerland–based investment bank, in 2015.
- Quayle Munro in January 2018. Quayle Munro was a corporate finance and analytics specialist founded in Edinburgh, Scotland. The firm provided corporate finance advice to firms underpinned by data and analytics, software and services, or content, although they could span several industries.
- Freeman & Co., a New York–based independent advisory firm that served financial institution clients, in October 2019.
- Fidentiis Capital in November 2019. Fidentiis Capital provided corporate finance services primarily to Spain’s mid-cap market. The addition further grew Houlihan Lokey’s presence in Europe, helping to make it a leader in that region.
- MVP Capital in August 2020. MVP Capital was an independent advisory firm focusing on the technology, media, and telecom sectors. This acquisition bolstered Houlihan Lokey’s coverage of the telecom sector.
- Baylor Klein in July 2021, which provided M&A and corporate finance services to the household, beauty, and personal care sectors. The team members of the U.K.-based Baylor Klein joined the Houlihan Lokey office in London.
- GCA Corp. in December 2021, which dramatically expanded the firm’s capabilities in the technology industry and its presence in Europe and Asia.
As a senior executive, Adelson has the responsibility of representing Houlihan Lokey in the media. Five of his most notable appearances were in The Australian, the Australian Financial Review, GlobalCapital, the Financial Times, and Bloomberg’s publications.
He was quoted in The Australian and the Australian Financial Review soon after Houlihan Lokey's IPO in 2015 when the firm opened a new office in Sydney. In both publications, Adelson expressed the company's optimism about Australia as a new market for its services. In The Australian, Adelson expressed his company's realization that Australian businesses had a need for Houlihan Lokey's services after its initial success with its Corporate Finance and Financial Restructuring businesses. In particular, businesses in Australia needed the resources of a global company, access to alternative pools of capital, and independent and experienced advisors.
In the Financial Times, Adelson talked about how Houlihan Lokey has grown since its founding. In a Bloomberg newsletter, he discussed the GCA acquisition, including its importance to the firm's continued growth in Europe and the technology sector. Adelson explained the reasons for the acquisition in the Times. He said that GCA and Houlihan Lokey had minimal overlap and that GCA provided additional capabilities in the technology industry. The combination now makes Houlihan Lokey "the most active investment bank on the planet in technology."
He further discussed the GCA acquisition in an interview with GlobalCapital. The acquisition took Houlihan Lokey from being merely an up-and-comer to now being the second most active investment bank in Europe. Essentially, the company went from being "sub-scale relative to some of our peers" to a powerhouse, he told GlobalCapital.
He appeared on Bloomberg in July 2017, discussing the firm's restructuring revenue and growth in the energy industry and the applications for the retail sector. He also has appeared in Bloomberg publications to discuss how the firm's business model was sustainable throughout the pandemic.
Other media appearances include a discussion of monetary policy in Handelsblatt, a German business publication, in Euromoney on how the firm plans to continue to grow, and The Banker on the firm's success formula. In January 2022, he was also featured in Expansión, a Spanish business publication. In that article, he discussed Houlihan Lokey's presence in Spain and his expectation that significant M&A activity would continue in the region.
Adelson is extremely active outside Houlihan Lokey, serving on several nonprofit and for-profit boards and councils. Among these are the Advisory Council for the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the USC Marshall School of Business and the board of trustees of Semester at Sea. He also has been a board member of Motorcar Parts of America and QAD Inc., a provider of cloud-based software.
In addition, he belongs to the YPO, an organization for young chief executives.
Adelson owns or co-owns several private companies. One is Antica Terra Vineyard, which he bought in 2005 and co-owns with friends. The company, known for its pinots, released its first vintage in 2006, which was highly acclaimed in magazines such as The Prince of Pinot, Wine.com, and Cool Hunting.
Other companies Adelson owns are Roller Rabbit, 18 East, and Loudmouth.
He married Lynda Adelson in 1987, with whom he raised three children: Parker, Taylor, and Sawyer. In 2017, the couple divorced, and he married Ashley Victoria Adelson. He has lived in Los Angeles and Montecito his whole life, except during college.
Adelson is also very active as a philanthropist and civic leader. Among the charities he supports is the University of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab, formerly called the Poverty Lab. The lab partners with other organizations to create economic opportunities in disadvantaged communities. Adelson views the lab's use of big data to drive policy decisions about the allocation of resources as critical, having previously used big data to determine business strategy. He created a fund through the lab that focuses on early childhood emotional and social intelligence in distressed communities.
Adelson also supports other nonprofit organizations that are important to him in the arts, culture, education, and health.
- "Biography" (in en-US). https://www.scottadelson.com/.
- "Houlihan’s Adelson Talks About Making Its Biggest Acquisition Yet By Matthew Monks and Liana Baker". https://www.bloomberg.com/news/newsletters/2021-12-06/houlihan-s-adelson-talks-about-making-its-biggest-acquisition-yet.
- "GCA acquisition serves as 'fantastic opportunity' for Houlihan Lokey" (in en-us). https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/latest-news-headlines/gca-acquisition-serves-as-fantastic-opportunity-for-houlihan-lokey-68180810.
- "Biography - Scott Adelson" (in en-US). https://www.scottadelson.com/.
- "Scott Adelson". https://hl.com/contact-us/scott-adelson.
- "Scott Adelson Net Worth (2022) – wallmine.com" (in en). https://wallmine.com/nasdaq/qadb/officer/1666004/scott-adelson.
- "Motorcar Parts of America - Governance - Board of Directors - Person Details". https://investors.motorcarparts.com/governance/board-of-directors/person-details/default.aspx?ItemId=60dd7c62-f6d5-44aa-8cde-9d9002e02278.
- "Scott Adelson". https://www.bloomberg.com/profile/person/15133131.