March 13, 2018 / 1:18 PM / 10 days ago

Natixis accelerates M&A boutique investment plan

LONDON, March 13 (IFR) - Natixis has invested in three advisory boutiques in the UK, France and China, in a further show of its idiosyncratic approach to expanding its corporate and investment bank.

The French firm, majority owned by BPCE, started adding M&A services to its core corporate client base in 2015, acquiring in full Leonardo & Co’s French business and 360 Corporate in Spain. Both these businesses were rebranded Natixis Partners.

In 2016 the group also bought a 51% stake in PJ Solomon, a New York boutique. It retained its name after the deal and Peter Solomon himself remained as chairman of the US firm with Natixis chief executive Laurent Mignon joining its board.

The latest deals will follow a similar structure to the Solomon transaction. Natixis will take a 51% stake in Fenchurch Advisory Partners, a London-based boutique specialising in the financial services sector, which is still run by founder and executive chairman Malik Karim.

Karim said the partners at Fenchuch, who will still manage the firm autonomously, would continue to have “significant ownership interest in the firm” and as such retain a long-term commitment to clients. The deal values Fenchurch at up to £100m, according to one report.

Notable recent deals by Fenchurch include advising Standard Life on its merger with Aberdeen Asset Management and the resulting company on the sale last month of its insurance business to Phoenix Group for £3.24bn.

Fewer details were given about the investments by Natixis in China-focused adviser Vermilion Partners and Paris-based technology house Clipperton. The French bank will take a majority stake in Vermilion but a minority stake in Clipperton.

Vermilion has advised private and state-owned entities in China on cross-border deals, both inbound and outbound to the country. Its current management, under chairman Peter Batey, will continue to be involved after the transaction.

“By delivering the option of Natixis’ global footprint and financing capabilities we will enhance our offering to both Chinese and international clients,” he said.

Vermilion has acted in China for fast food chain McDonalds, drinks producer Diageo and tobacco company Imperial Brands. It also advised Yunyi Guokai (Shanghai) Sports Development on the purchase in 2016 of English premiership football club West Bromwich Albion.

Clipperton will “join forces” with Natixis “to establish a top-tier corporate finance advisory offering in the tech field”.

“It was essential for us to bring even more experience and international access to our customers, and that is what this alliance will enable us to do,” Clipperton managing partner Nicolas von Bulow said.

Marc Vincent, global head of corporate & investment banking at Natixis, said: “Our unique multi-affiliate M&A advisory model has proved its worth, allowing us to expand our advisory capabilities by combining with firms with very specific areas of expertise.”

He said the firm would still retain its in-house teams in addition to its six-partner boutiques and have 200 professionals in the area in all.

Natixis did not disclose how much it had paid for the investments but said the three deals would cut the group’s core equity Tier 1 ratio by around 8bp. At the end of December it stood at 10.65% under Basel III rules. (Reporting by Christopher Spink)

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