* Opens Paris office with sales team ex-UBS
* Hopes commodities sales opens door to broader equities
By Andrea Hopkins
TORONTO, Oct 15 As global rivals retrench, the
investment banking arm of Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) is pushing
further into Europe, hoping Canada's commodities cachet will
lure institutional investors into BMO's equities sales net.
Boasting a sales team recently snatched from troubled Swiss
bank UBS UBSN.VX, Canada's fourth-largest bank opened a
capital markets office in Paris this week in a bid to get a
foot in the door with investors looking to diversify their
holdings of mining and energy companies.
Like its domestic rivals, Bank of Montreal has emerged from
the financial crisis relatively unscathed and eager to snap up
market share in Europe and the United States while global
rivals are regrouping.
"We don't like to talk specifically about our competitors
but the fact that we're opening up the Paris branch is
indicative of (our relative strength)," Eric Tripp, president
of BMO Capital Markets, said in an interview on Thursday.
The Paris office is BMO's 27th global office and the latest
notch in the bank's strategy to broaden its institutional
equity sales and trading services for global clients.
While the bank has capital markets expertise in North
America beyond commodities, Tripp said leveraging Canada's
reputation as the country of mines and oilfields -- and BMO as
a bank that has long covered those industries -- is a way of
getting the bank front-and-center with investors who might not
otherwise look to Canadian brokerages for advice.
Then, once they build trust and relationships, BMO hopes to
expand sales beyond hard commodities.
"We have a knowledge base of the Canadian market that is
very strong relative to the global investment banks that we
might compete with in Europe for the minds of the institutional
investors," Tripp said.
"They'll give us the time to discuss things because they
know we're the experts on the market, versus if JPMorgan shows
up to talk about Canadian companies. A European investor is
less likely to listen to them than they would to us, because
they know that's our focus. That's the sweet spot of our
But the opening of the Paris bureau -- BMO's fourth
European office after London, Zurich and Lugano -- does not
herald an imminent move to buy up bank assets from rivals
looking to trim their capital markets business.
BMO has consistently said it is focusing its acquisition
strategies on assets that fit its Canadian and U.S. Midwest
geographic footprint -- not European banks.
"That would not be our strategy at this time," Tripp said.
"The assets for us are people, and then just expanding our
market share with the clients through the team that we have."
The Paris bureau will be run by Matthieu Debost and a six
equity salesmen, all of whom came over from UBS in recent
months. Debost spent 19 years at UBS, where he was head of
Canadian equity sales in Europe since 2002, BMO said.
(Reporting by Andrea Hopkins; editing by Janet Guttsman)