Cowen Inc., is an American multinational independent investment bank and financial services company that operates through two business segments: a broker-dealer and an investment management division. The company's broker-dealer division offers investment banking services, equity and credit research, sales and trading, global prime brokerage, outsourced trading, global clearing and commission management services. Cowen's investment management segment offers actively managed alternative investment products. Founded in 1918, the firm is headquartered in New York and has offices worldwide.
Cowen is known for successfully identifying emerging industries early on. Examples include the emerging cannabis industry, having been the first Wall Street firm to publish cannabis research.
Founded as a bond trading house, Cowen expanded in its early years to include correspondent clearing and execution services. As the Firm grew, it developed a leadership position in railroad bonds and launched a research and institutional sales business. The Firm expanded significantly in the 1970s in research and retail, opening six offices from coast-to-coast and expanding its business offerings through acquisitions: Hardy & Company; Greene & Ladd; G.S. Grumman; and McCloy-Watterson & Co., Inc. In the 1980s, Cowen expanded internationally, established an investment banking business, and set up offices in London, Geneva, Paris, and Tokyo. In the 1990s, the Firm grew the investment banking business, beginning with five initial public offerings and follow-ons for approximately $200 million, growing to nearly 80 transactions and $5 billion in proceeds by 1995.
In 1998, the company was acquired by Société Générale and renamed SG Cowen. In 2000, Cowen sold its private client services unit to Lehman Brothers, retaining its investment banking, research and sales and trading operations. Cowen operated as a unit of Societe Generale until 2006, when it was spun off in an initial public offering and renamed itself, Cowen and Company. The public offering was joint bookrun by Cowen, Credit Suisse and Merrill Lynch.