Mr. John H. Gibson, 70, of San Clemente, Calif., a highly-regarded investment banker who specialized in land-secured municipal bonds, died from cancer last Monday.
Friends and colleagues of Mr. Gibson’s said he possessed an innate integrity that he instilled in those he mentored, many of whom now hold leadership roles in the banking and municipal bond industry.
“John was a terrific banker,” said Katie Koster, a managing director in the Laguna Beach office of Piper Jaffray. “He had a tremendous amount of concern for the welfare of his clients and treated them with the utmost respect.”
Mr. Gibson created a strong legacy as a mentor to Koster and others.
“He was a warm and caring human being and genuinely cared for his clients,” Koster said.
Mr. Gibson spent the first 20 years of his career working as a debt manager for Orange County. His public sector experience served him well when he moved to the private sector, because it gave him a broader understanding of his clients, said Mark Adler, managing director and co-head of the California practice for Piper Jaffray.
“He was a good man, a good mentor, and a good teacher,” Adler said.
His clients were incredibly loyal, Adler said, because “they always knew that he was looking out for their best interest in land transactions that at times have aggressive developers.”
He developed client relationships that were long and enduring as a result, according to Terry Atkinson, former head of UBS Securities,
Mr. Gibson left the public sector to work as a managing director at Drexel Burnham in 1985. He was promoted a year later to head the firm’s California public finance practice. In 1989, he accepted a partnership position at Stone & Youngberg where he worked until 2001, when he left to work as a managing director at UBS Securities. He retired from UBS in March 2008.
“When John made a statement you knew it was backed up with knowledge and accuracy,” said Scott Sollers, a managing director with Stone & Youngberg.
Sollers considered him a go-to person on issues that required strategic thinking.
Mr. Gibson’s conservative approach emphasized long-range strategies for the unrated, high-risk land-secured “dirt bond” deals in which he specialized.
“He would tell employees this isn’t about short-term deals, it’s about what is good for the issuer in the long term,” Koster said.
His legacy is reflected in financings throughout California “that worked for the community, that worked for the bond investors, that were never so risky that issuers and investors regretted participating in them,” Adler said.
Mr. Gibson took a “lot of pride in not just getting the good deals done, but rejecting deals he didn’t think were appropriate for the marketplace,” Koster said.
“He made you feel good about being in the muni business, because if someone like him was in the muni business, then it had to be a good business,” said David Brodsly, a managing director with KNN Public Finance.
Mr. Gibson is survived by his wife, Johanna, a daughter, and five grandchildren.