Jefferies appoints sponsor heads for Europe push

Jefferies, the US boutique investment bank, has signalled its intention to further develop its European private equity offering by appointing Bruce Huber and Warren Scott to manage financial sponsor relationships in the region. It is also looking to build its financing business.

Jefferies, a US investment bank that advises on mid-market deals, is hoping to build up its private equity business in Europe even further after appointing Bruce Huber and Warren Scott, two of its top executives, as co-heads of European financial sponsor coverage.

Huber heads up Jefferies’ European technology investment banking division in London, while Scott is co-head of the Frankfurt office that Jefferies opened earlier this year. Both men will retain their current jobs alongside the new role.

The US-based bank, which focuses on advising growth and mid-market companies, largely in the sub-$1 billion space, has been aggressively building its European business in the last year, both organically and though acquisitions. In addition to opening Scott’s Frankfurt office, it has also acquired corporate finance boutique LongAcre Partners, to extend its offering in the online and media sector, and advisor Putnam Lovell, to further its client base among financial institutions. In 2005 it also bought Helix Associates, a London-based placement agent with operations in the US.

As a result, in the last three years it has gone from having one banker in Europe to 130.

The new appointments reflect this increase in scale, Huber told PEO: “The business has long banked financial sponsors in Europe, so this is not terribly new in terms of activity. But we’ve recently enjoyed a growth spurt in Europe, so there was a need to co-ordinate, collaborate and channel our financial sponsor coverage.”

Huber and Scott will work closely with Adam Sokoloff and John Huwiler, the co-heads of its US financial sponsor coverage. One area of co-operation could be on debt financing – the bank already provides this to its US clients, and has starting to do it on the other side of the Atlantic too; for example on the recent £479 million ($925 million) acquisition of Aston Martin from Ford.

Huber said the recent jitters in the credit markets would not affect these plans, since the fundamentals remain strong – particularly at their end of the market. “It’s a healthy market but there will be some adjustments,” he said.

Indeed, the current problems could even be good news for Jefferies, he argues. “We’re still open for business. In fact we see this as a real opportunity for us, especially in North America where we have a very developed debt capital markets business.”

Huber accepted that Jefferies’ biggest challenge was now in building a brand, an area they have not focused on to date. However, he believes the bank has a genuinely differentiated offering: “Nobody else in the market is systematically focused on a full service offering to the growth market on a global basis – providing best-in-class advice through global sector teams.”