Investment bank Perella Weinberg to open Paris office

PARIS (Reuters) - Investment bank Perella Weinberg Partners (PWP) is planning to open an office in Paris, the company said on Friday, marking its first, formal presence in continental Europe and allowing it to build up its French advisory business.

Its move comes as Paris vies with Frankfurt to lure bankers over from London following Britain’s decision to quit the European Union, and with the French business climate having improved since President Emmanuel Macron’s election last year.

Co-founder Joseph Perella earlier told Les Echos newspaper in an interview on Friday that the decision to open an office in Paris was not necessarily linked to Brexit, but rather due to the business climate in France becoming more “hospitable”.

“Given the importance of the French M&A (mergers & acquisition) market, the current strong operating environment and the sense of optimism in the country, we believe now is the right time to further augment our French practice,” said PWP partner Dietrich Becker in a statement.

The firm said it had worked on several French deals in recent years, including advising Alstom ALSO.PA shareholder Bouygues BOUY.PA over last year's partnership between Alstom and Siemens SIEGn.DE.

According to Thomson Reuters data, Rothschild ROTH.PA, BNP Paribas BNPP.PA, Goldman Sachs GS.N and Lazard LAZ.N dominated French M&A advisory league tables in 2017.

The Paris office is to be headed by David Azema, who joined the firm last year from Bank of America Merrill Lynch and is a former head of the agency that manages the French government’s corporate holdings.

Macron’s government has pledged to sell down its stakes in firms no longer deemed to be strategic in order to invest in a new fund to be used to finance innovation.

PWP did not give further details over the amount of staff it could hire in Paris.

A Reuters survey last month showed that Paris had overtaken Frankfurt as the most popular destination for new roles post-Brexit.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Leigh Thomas