Macquarie, the ambitious Australian bank that is considering a bid for the London Stock Exchange, has hired nearly 150 bankers in London this year as part of an aggressive European expansion plan.
The bank's revenues in Europe have more than tripled in 12 months.
The staffing at Macquarie's offices in London, the European headquarters of its investment banking advisory, private equity and infrastructure funds businesses, has jumped by 20% since January to almost 400, according to senior sources close to the bank. Staff increases at some of its six other regional offices have pushed total European staffing levels to over 500 and Macquarie is expected to continue hiring.
The bank has taken six floors of the Citypoint building in the City of London and has plenty of space for new recruits. It has also transferred dozens of staff from its global headquarters in Sydney at short notice on three to four-year secondments, according to bankers familiar with Macquarie's plans.
In the past three months Macquarie, run by chief executive Allan Moss, has created a number of new industry teams. In October, it hired a team of 11 bankers from ABN Amro, led by Mark Dooley, head of ABN Amro's infrastructure capital team.
This followed the creation of a debt finance team under Spence Clunie, former head of UK leveraged finance at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, and the launch of an industrials sector team under Adam Hain, a former Credit Suisse First Boston banker who most recently worked at Carnegie, Wylie & Company, an Australian boutique.
It has also moved its global commodities trading desk to London, added bankers to its oil and gas team, and quadrupled the size of its airports advisory effort.
A spokeswoman for Macquarie would not comment on the bank's current hiring plans, but said it had added almost 500 staff in Europe since 2002. In a presentation to investors in September, Macquarie said 2,037 of the bank's 7,125 staff were employed outside Australia.
The radical expansion has gone hand in hand with a dramatic increase in its European revenues, which had risen by 206% to 188m (€274.5m) in the six months to September 30 and accounted for 45% of the bank's international (non-Australian) revenue. This, in turn, accounted for 46% of the group's A$2.1bn (€1.3bn) operating income and has doubled in the past 12 months. In investment banking, Macquarie said 75% of its advisory mandates were generated outside Australia.
Rivals have compared Macquarie's culture to that of Goldman Sachs. One senior banker said: "They like their bankers to be flexible and move between their advisory and funds businesses to gain experience."
Macquarie has risen to prominence with a string of high-profile investments in European infrastructure, utilities and media assets, and has been trying to put together a consortium to bid for the LSE, on which it is being advised by Goldman Sachs. In July, Macquarie closed the first infrastructure fund to target Europe, raising €1.5bn of firepower.
Macquarie's infrastructure portfolio includes Arlanda Express, the high-speed rail service linking Arlanda airport to Stockholm city centre; a 50.1% interest in UK utility South East Water; and Wightlink, the largest independent owner and operator of ferries and ports in the UK.