* Signs of more competition in France
* Alexandre de Rothschild to take over from father
* Rothschild shares rise in Paris (Adds detail, background)
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
PARIS, April 17 (Reuters) - Alexandre de Rothschild will replace his father David as chairman of the family-controlled Rothschild & Co investment bank, maintaining a dynasty founded more than 200 years ago by Mayer Amschel Rothschild.
The Rothschilds, whose five arrows motif stems from the family’s roots in Austrian nobility, have worked on some of the biggest deals in history, including helping finance Britain’s war against French military leader Napoleon.
Under David it successfully brought together the British and French branches of the family in an effort to strengthen its position against rivals in its home markets and abroad.
Rothschild now boast 3,500 financial services specialists in 40 countries and is focused on advisory work, private wealth management and merchant banking.
Although it reported higher annual profit and revenues last month, buoyed by its advisory work, the investment bank faces increasing competition from rivals at home, with Lazard hiring more staff and Perella Weinberg Partners looking to open an office in Paris.
“I believe that those who make our firm so successful are as delighted as I am about the family continuity at the head of the firm,” David, who has worked for the group for more than 40 years, said in a statement on Tuesday.
Alexandre, who joined the group in 2008 to focus primarily on the establishment of the Merchant Banking division, had previously worked in investment banking and private equity in New York and London with Bear Stearns and Bank of America.
“Rothschild & Co has grown into a global firm with three recognised and established businesses,” the 37-year-old, who has been Executive Deputy Chairman since March 2017, said.
He told the Financial Times that he was keen to see Rothschild expand in the United States, where it has failed to make much headway versus the major Wall Street banks.
However, Rothschild was among the top five firms for mergers and acquisitions work in France during the first quarter of 2018, alongside Lazard, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, Thomson Reuters data shows.
And investment bankers expect the French M&A sector to remain resilient, helped by last year’s election of President Emmanuel Macron, himself a former Rothschild banker, who has vowed to strengthen the economy.
Shares in Rothschild rose 3.2 percent on Tuesday, buoyed by Exane BNP Paribas starting coverage with an “outperform” rating.
“The business is market sensitive, and Q1 2018 has been a more subdued environment. But M&A is picking up again, and we see good prospects for all threee businesses (M&A, fund management, merchant banking) in 2018 and the longer term,” Exane BNP Paribas said in a note.
Founding father Amschel’s son Nathan Meyer Rothschild is reputed to have made a fortune buying British government bonds in anticipation of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri and Alexander Smith)