Lazard restructures in Australia amid M&A sector shake-up

By Paulina Duran


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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Investment bank Lazard Ltd said on Friday it is reorganising its Australia operations, retaining its asset management arm in the country in-house but handing over mergers and acquisitions advisory services to a new, “affiliated” firm.

A person with direct knowledge of the situation said a number of redundancies were announced at the firm on Thursday, without disclosing how many jobs were affected. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the details were private.

A Lazard spokeswoman said in an emailed statement that the new advisory firm in Australia will retain an “affiliation” with Lazard and be headed by Melbourne-based Andrew Leyden, a seasoned infrastructure and energy banker who currently heads the firm in the country.

The move comes amid a shake-up in the investment banking market in Australia, with South Africa’s Investec announcing plans to exit from the country in December, while newcomers such Barrenjoey -backed by Barclays Plc- and local firm Jarden, raid competitors for talent.

M&A advisory revenue in Australia tumbled 50% in 2020 to $1.24 billion, according to Refinitiv data, as activity plummeted with the coronavirus pandemic disrupting economies and hurting business confidence around the world.

Bankers, however, expect a rebound in 2021, driven by a global economic recovery, ultra-low interest rates and quantitative easing from central banks.

Lazard, “regularly reviews our global footprint; assessing local office productivity and potential for future growth,” the spokeswoman added. There would be “no impact on Lazard Asset Management in Australia”, she said.

“We have good visibility on the Australian financial advisory business and decided this was the right time.”

Lazard was 7th in target advisory rankings in Australia for 2020, according to Refinitiv, while Goldman Sachs topped the same league table.

The firm is currently advising New Zealand’s takeover target Tilt Renewables Ltd and last year acted as defence advisor for wind and solar firm Infigen Energy.

“A core team will continue to work on all current mandates,” the spokeswoman added.

The person with direct knowledge of the matter said the new firm was expected to operate in a similar partnership model to Lazard’s operations in South Korea, where in 2013 it established a “strategic alliance” instead of a fully owned office.

(Reporting by Paulina Duran in Sydney; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)