Credit Suisse promotes Australian financial sponsor head

Credit Suisse has promoted John Knox to co-head its Australian investment banking business with Rob Stewart. Knox will continue to head the bank’s financial sponsor coverage in Australia.

Credit Suisse has appointed Sydney-based John Knox as co-head of the bank’s investment banking, to work alongside Rob Stewart, who is based in Melbourne. Knox will continue as head of financial sponsor coverage for Australia.

Knox’s new role will broaden his coverage responsibilities to a wider client base. He will report to Paul Raphael, head of investment banking for Asia Pacific, in Hong Kong.

The latest appointment marks a second promotion in two years for the 34-year old who began his banking career with Credit Suisse twelve years ago. Knox was promoted to managing director in 2006 a year after returning to Sydney to work with financial sponsors. He transferred to New York in 1998, and returned to Australia in 2005.

Raphael said: “The Australia investment banking business has been successful for many years and is extremely important to us in the region. Rob and John will form a formidable management team, which will in turn enhance our coverage of key clients at a senior level”

The growth of private equity in Australia has been marked by billion dollar funds and the increasing popularity of multi-billion dollar acquisitions. While buyout groups may have failed to acquire domestic airline Qantas and retailer Coles Group in two most high-profile attempts, the rising popularity of take-privates has clearly shaken corporate Australia.

The global credit squeeze that resulted from the US subprime market collapse has certainly not spared Australia. However, in an interview with PEO, Knox stressed the sound local fundamentals in Australia: “Very few institutions in Australia have large exposures to the US subprime market.”

Knox was also confident that more innovative use of capital in financing transactions will emerge. “These private equity players are smart people, and they have a lot of money to spend, and incentives to spend that money.”

“They may lose the benefits of leverage but they are gaining the benefits of lower asset prices.”

Credit Suisse led the financing for the $5 billion buyout of PBL Media assets by CVC Asia Pacific as well as a $2.7 billion pro-rata entitlement issue for Westfield Group, in what it says is the largest ever accelerated rights issue in Australia.