Both Barclays and Deutsche Bank are placing M&A and advisory banking at the heart of their nascent capital-light strategies. It's maybe unfortunate, therefore, that both Barclays and Deutsche Bank have lost two of their senior M&A bankers to self-employment.
Julian Vickers, the former global co-head of natural resources investment banking at Barclays, who left in July, has founded a boutique natural resources-focused advisory firm, 'Natural Resources Capital Partners.' Xanyar Kamangar, a former director in EMEA TMT investment banking at Deutsche Bank, who left earlier this year, has founded an Iran-focused advisory and investment firm, Griffon Capital.
Kamangar wasn't available to discuss his new venture, but when we spoke to him in late 2014, he offered no intimation of his intention to leave Deutsche, saying simply that M&A was a "rewarding career" which offered "adrenaline", "excitement", "opportunity" and "freedom".
Vickers founded NRG with two other senior M&A professionals: Mick Oliver, former head of the mining team at CIBC, and Tuikku Alaviitala, a former head of oil and gas execution M&A at Barclays. Oliver and Alaviitala left CIBC and Barclays respectively last year.
Vickers says NRG may be hiring - but not in big numbers. "We're not going to be on a big hiring spree, but when we do hire we're going to be looking for people with a similar background to my own. People who have qualified as engineers in the sector, worked for several years in the natural resources industry and then become bankers."
Vickers himself started as an exploration geologist before becoming a strategy consultant and banker.
While NRG plans to focus on metals, mining and oil and gas, Vickers says banks are becoming increasingly generalist in their approach. "The focus at large banks is on generalist resources and big deals. That kind of approach works when deals are very large and more about balance sheet and knowledge of public market procedures and transactions."
With banks increasingly only interested in deals worth £200m+, Vickers says there's a place for industry focused boutiques working on smaller transactions. "If you're operating in a big bank franchise, it's very difficult to do deals at the lower end of the scale. There are a lot of companies out there with a lot of issues who are just to small to be able to serve in a banking environment."
Photo credit: Thomas Hawk