(Bloomberg) -- Lazard Inc. is weighing several opportunities to acquire a private-credit firm that would help expand its $250 billion asset-management arm, becoming the latest Wall Street bank to seek inroads in the buzzy sector.

The company will be cautious, but it’s “in the mix, evaluating lots of options” in private markets, Chief Executive Officer Peter Orszag said in a Bloomberg Television interview Thursday. Lazard is most likely to acquire firms involved in private credit, infrastructure, real estate and other areas in private markets where it doesn’t yet have much of a presence, he said. 

“We’re going to be very cautious as we go through this, both on the pricing — to make sure it’s in shareholders’ interest to do some of these acquisitions — but also on culture,” Orszag said. “Because you can get something at the right price and, if there’s not a good cultural fit, it still doesn’t work.”

Orszag, who took the reins at the roughly 175-year-old investment bank late last year, has said he hopes to double revenue by 2030, with the increase split between the advisory arm and its asset-management unit. 

Lazard isn’t the only Wall Street company that’s sought to expand in private markets as a way to boost revenue. JPMorgan Chase & Co. is looking to buy a private-credit firm that could bolster that business for its asset-management arm. JPMorgan held talks to buy Chicago-based Monroe Capital this year, but the two firms ultimately decided not to pursue a deal, Bloomberg News previously reported. 

Takeover Talk

The Abu Dhabi wealth fund ADQ held preliminary talks last year to buy Lazard as part of the emirate’s continued interest in acquiring a major financial institution, Bloomberg News previously reported. The discussions quickly fell apart over differences about the future independence of the storied Wall Street firm.

“We’re a public company — people always are interested in approaching us and having discussions,” Orszag said in the interview, without commenting specifically about possible suitors. “Lazard, its DNA, is really founded on independent advice delivered to clients. That independence is really important. We’re a public company and we acknowledge that, but the independence is really core to who we are.”

Orszag said he expects a pickup in merger activity once the Federal Reserve begins cutting interest rates. Such a move is likely to generate more activity among private equity sponsors, where dealmaking slowed as the central bank left rates higher for longer than many analysts had predicted.

“I don’t think it matters how many cuts happen this year,” Orszag said. “What matters is that first rate cut is indeed a light switch, because what that signals is the Fed believes that it has won the war on inflation, so it’s all downhill from there in terms of rates.”

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