By Pamela Barbaglia, Greg Roumeliotis and Maya Nikolaeva
LONDON/NEW YORK/PARIS (Reuters) – U.S. boutique investment bank Centerview has found an office in the heart of Paris and is hiring senior bankers to establish a second European hub as Brexit looms, three sources told Reuters.
Centerview, which already has an office in London’s Mayfair, has rented space on the upmarket Avenue Matignon and plans to open for business in the next few months, the sources said, requesting anonymity as the matter is confidential.
The New York-based bank has held talks with a number of prominent dealmakers in Paris including the former boss of Lazard in France, Matthieu Pigasse, the sources said.
Its target list also includes Deutsche Bank’s (DE:) co-head of corporate and investment banking Emmanuel Hasbanian and Barclays (L:) managing director Yann Krychowski, who specializes in financial services, the sources said.
The two were recently approached by Centerview but an agreement over a possible move has yet to be found, they said.
Centerview, Hasbanian and Krychowski declined to comment. Pigasse did not respond to a request for comment.
The bank’s push into continental Europe comes with Britain set to leave the European Union on Jan. 31. Large investment banks and independent advisory outfits are bulking up their presence across Europe to ensure access to continental clients.
The value of French mergers and acquisitions (M&A) rose 2% last year to $193 billion, the third highest in the past decade, according to Refinitiv data.
That was mainly due to a surge in outbound M&A which spiked 33% to a record $115 billion, despite a general slowdown in European activity, the data showed.
Citi (N:) topped the French M&A league table in 2019 followed by Goldman Sachs (N:) and Morgan Stanley (N:) with only three independent advisory firms – Lazard, Perella Weinberg & Partners and D’Angelin & Co – making the top 10.
Centerview ranked fourth last year for global M&A deals led by advisory boutiques with a 2.1% share of the overall fee pool. Lazard took the largest slice.
Centerview is betting on a mix of junior and seasoned deal-makers to drive its French roll-out as it wants to become the advisor of choice for big French companies, the sources said.
It recently landed a key advisory role representing U.S. jeweler Tiffany (N:) in takeover negotiations with French luxury group LVMH (PA:) – a milestone transaction for French dealmaking in the United States.
Pigasse, whose contract with Lazard ended on Dec. 31, would help Centerview woo large French clients. He has held talks about a senior role at Centerview in Paris but has yet to commit, the sources said.
The U.S. bank, co-founded by Blair Effron and Robert Pruzan, is also close to poaching two other former Lazard dealmakers, Nicolas Constant and Pierre Pasqual, the sources said.
Constant helped Pigasse advise French cosmetics giant L’Oreal (PA:) while at Lazard, two of the sources said.
Neither Constant nor Pasqual were immediately available for comment.
Other M&A newcomers in France include Perella Weinberg – the investment bank founded by Joe Perella and Peter Weinberg – and Greenhill & Co (N:).
Perella launched its Paris office in 2018, luring French bankers from Bank of America (N:) and Goldman Sachs while Greenhill picked Amelie Negrier-Oyarzabal, a former Lazard partner, to open its French hub in late 2019.
New York-based Evercore Inc (N:) tapped headhunting firm Charta Partners last year to attract French bankers with long-standing relationships with the country’s key companies but has yet to open a local office.