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The unfortunate message behind Macquarie’s U.S. IBD layoffs

Macquarie M&A U.S.

Not so sunny after all

Macquarie is making layoffs in its U.S. investment banking division (IBD). Reuters reports that 15% of people are going; the industrials group has been disbanded, chemicals bankers are joining the infrastructure team, the consumer group has been merged with gaming and leisure and TMT has absorbed the ‘healthcare information services group.’

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, Macquarie was one of the big hirers in U.S. M&A. In September 2009, the Australian bank embarked upon what Reuters described as an “ambitious hiring spree” as it attempted to establish itself as a player in U.S. investment banking.

So, what went wrong?

The chart below offers a few clues. Using figures provided by Dealogic it shows where Macquarie ranked in U.S. M&A year-to-date over the past decade. In this case, lower is better. Basically, Macquarie has only penetrated the top 20 once – and that’s this year.

The implication is that making inroads in the U.S. advisory market is harder than it seems – even if you spend big money hiring “big name” bankers. Macquarie’s U.S M&A business ranked lowest of all (68th) in 2013, four years after its investment in bankers began.

It augurs badly for other international and European banks which are trying to build their presence in the U.S. Deutsche Bank and Nomura spring to mind.

Deutsche does, at least, rank 10th for U.S. M&A so far this year. Nomura, meanwhile, is way outside the top 10, but wants to double its U.S. investment banking revenue over the next two to three years. Last year, it hired Macquarie’s U.S. M&A chief, James Frawley, to help deliver this.

Photo credit: Macquarie up close by Edmund Tse is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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