Big banks on financial sponsors spree

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Soaring Australian private equity activity is prompting Australian-based investment banks to boost their financial sponsor teams.

All leading investment banks tell us they have and are continuing to build their financial sponsor teams which help private equity firms arrange and execute M&A deals.

Scott Perkins, the Sydney-based head of Global Banking for Australia and New Zealand at Deutsche Bank, has a nine person team and says he is still recruiting.

"We have a dedicated coverage and leveraged team in Australia serving both local and global sponsors. It is a priority growth area for us," Perkins says.

UBS has a 10-person team and, says one insider, is "always looking for good people"

JP Morgan recently added 2 people to the team and, according to a spokesman, will "continue to build into increased activity," while Citigroup has a team run by Andrew Cox, with six working specifically in financing, and is also hiring, according to a spokeswoman.

A spokeswoman for ABN Amro says its team had been in existence for around two years and "has been bolstered in recent months due to the number of opportunities in the market." She didn't let on whether they were seeking more members.

Financial sponsor teams first emerged in the Australian and New Zealand market about five years ago, and in that time the fees earned from the sector have risen more than five fold from $US18 million in calendar 2001, to more than $US90 million in the current year to date, according to information provider Dealogic.

The current spate of hiring comes amidst an unprecedented wave of merger activity involving private equity firms and buyout consortia.

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