Investment Banks Are Shifting Focus to Europe After Record Year, BCG Report Finds

Mar 20, 2007, 01:00 ET from The Boston Consulting Group

    NEW YORK, March 20 /PRNewswire/ -- The largest investment banks are
 increasingly directing their attention to Europe, the Middle East, and
 Africa (EMEA) to capture more of Europe's growing cross-border M&A business
 and origination activity, says a new report by The Boston Consulting Group
     Investment banking markets in the EMEA region have grown in importance
 and now represent 36 percent of the industry's global revenues. Some
 investment banks predict that in the next three to five years, up to 75
 percent of revenue growth will come from outside the United States. As a
 result, several have transferred some decision-making authority and
 organizational emphasis away from their home operations toward Europe.
     The shift is one of several trends transforming the global investment-
 banking landscape, according to BCG's latest quarterly Investment Banking
 and Capital Markets report. Other trends include the growing influence of
 financial sponsor and hedge fund clients, the increasing importance of risk
 management in proprietary trading, and the continued need for product
 innovation and technology investment to drive profit growth.
     "Increasingly, the largest investment banks are moving from a product
 to a customer focus," said Svilen Ivanov, leader of BCG's
 investment-banking practice and coauthor of the report. "To meet the
 cross-functional needs of alternative-investment clients, they are
 mobilizing capabilities across their organizations or within specific
 divisions around core clients and developing innovative client-coverage
     Building on the industry's record performance in 2006, the outlook for
 2007 remains positive, with global revenues predicted to grow 10 to 15
 percent, to around $335 billion. Pretax profits are expected to rise 9 to
 15 percent. Among the industry's main sources of revenue, equity trading is
 forecast to post the strongest growth -- about 20 percent -- in 2007.
     The report's in-depth analysis of fourth-quarter and annual performance
 shows that investment banks finished 2006 on a strong note. Profit margins
 at ten leading banks (Bear Stearns, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche
 Bank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan
 Stanley, and UBS) increased by an average of 6.5 percentage points in the
 fourth quarter, while revenues increased 18.7 percent over the previous
     Fixed income and equity trading did not experience the typical seasonal
 drop-off in the fourth quarter due to robust derivatives and commodities
 activity. Trading revenues for the leading banks increased 13 percent in
 the fourth quarter and were 45 percent higher than the same period a year
 earlier, on average. Gains in advisory work were also strong, as the value
 of M&A deals surged 34 percent over the previous quarter.
     For the industry as a whole, investment banks posted record revenues
 and profits for the year on the back of strong corporate profitability,
 deep pools of global liquidity, strong equity markets, low inflation, and
 tightening credit spreads. Total annual revenues jumped 33 percent to $289
 billion, while profits soared 38 percent to $90 billion.
     Both trading and advisory work helped fuel the stellar performance.
 Fixed- income revenues grew 29 percent in 2006, as favorable market
 conditions drove higher trading activity. Revenues from equities trading
 surged 42 percent, due in part to sustained growth in equity derivatives.
 At the same time, corporate finance and advisory revenues remained strong,
 growing 30 percent for the year.
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SOURCE The Boston Consulting Group