LONDON Barclays Capital, the investment bank arm of Britain's Barclays Plc (BARC.L), will hire more than 750 staff this year as part of its plan to win leading positions in equities and M&A advisory, a top executive said.
The bank, which bought the U.S. business of Lehman Brothers in September, is now expanding in Europe and Asia. It is also targeting a top three spot in prime services to take advantage of a retreat by rivals servicing hedge funds, he said.
Barclays Capital (BarCap) has hired 450 people in equities and plans to hire another 250 by the end of the year, said Jerry del Missier, president of BarCap. It plans to hire about 65 merger and acquisition (M&A) advisers this year, he said.
It is aiming to replicate its top positions in bonds, currencies and commodities and build on its strong U.S. platform for equities and M&A after the Lehman deal.
"It's certainly our intention to be a leading global player in equities and advisory over the next three years," del Missier told Reuters in an interview this week.
BarCap ranks ninth in global M&A this year, after advising on 27 deals worth $96 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data. It would need to more than double its 13 percent market share to break into the top three -- currently Morgan Stanley (MS.N), JP Morgan Chase (JPM.N) and Citi (C.N).
BarCap's role as adviser to Pfizer on its $68 billion takeover of Wyeth helped it rank sixth in U.S. M&A, but it is just 22nd in Europe.
It ranks second behind JPMorgan in global debt capital markets proceeds this year and is ninth in equity capital markets, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Del Missier said he was confident of making a mark relatively quickly in equities, for example, as it targets companies that are already its clients "at a time when the competition is retrenching or consolidating and going through a difficult period of time."
Its move marks a U-turn for Barclays after it exited both M&A advisory and equities in 1997. That took place a year after BarCap boss Bob Diamond arrived at the bank to refocus BZW on debt markets and rename it Barclays Capital.
Del Missier, who joined the bank in 1997 and has been the long-time lieutenant of Diamond, said the business can avoid the equities and debt conflict that hobbled BZW in the past.
"We exited the advisory business because we didn't have a very good advisory business at BZW," del Missier said in a telephone interview from New York. It quit cash equities 12 years ago because it had no scale in U.S. equities so couldn't compete globally, he added.
Profits at Barclays, Britain's second biggest bank, rose 15 percent in the first quarter, led by a trebling of BarCap's profit to 907 million pounds ($1.5 billion) as it and rivals benefited from buoyant fixed income, currencies and commodities business.
HIGH PROFILE HIRES
BarCap has made a number of recent high-profile appointments as part of its expansion.
It named Matthew Ponsonby and Mark Warham as co-heads of European M&A; Sam Dean joined as co-head of global equity capital markets; Jim Renwick was named as head of UK equity capital markets; and it poached a trio of European bank analysts from Citi.
It also named Greg Barrett as head of prime services capital solutions, and del Missier said he wants to take advantage of a shake up in the hedge fund landscape.
"It (the hedge fund industry) has clearly shrunk, but competitors have left the market at a faster rate than the market has contracted so we are taking a bigger share of the market. We already have a top five market position and we're confident we can move up to the top three," he said.
BarCap employs about 20,000 staff. It cut about 3,500 U.S. staff last year from the combined Barclays and Lehman workforce, and cut 1,300 jobs in January as the financial crisis deepened.
(Editing by Simon Jessop)