Commerzbank boosts financial sponsors unit

Michael Johnson, a former leveraged financier at Nomura and DLJ, has joined the expanding financial sponsors group at Commerzbank Securities.

Commerzbank Securities (ComSec), the investment banking division of Commerzbank which earlier this year launched a financial sponsors group, has appointed Michael Johnson to assist in the group’s move into larger-cap LBO transactions in Europe.

Johnson joins ComSec from Nomura Principal Finance Group where he was a transaction director, responsible for deals including the purchase of a portfolio of approximately 1000 pubs from Bass plc, which became the Voyager Pub Company.

Previously, Johnson was head of leveraged finance for DLJ in Europe, where he set up one of the first integrated leveraged finance groups in Europe.  Prior to that Johnson was head of leveraged finance at Credit Suisse First Boston in New York.

At ComSec, Johnson will help develop and manage ComSec’s financial sponsor coverage business making use of the group’s E490bn balance sheet. He joins former managing director of CSFB's financial sponsors group, Matthew Roeser, who was hired to head the financial sponsor business in June.

Commerzbank has already been active in arranging and underwriting leveraged transactions both in Germany and across Europe. It acted as lead debt arranger for EQT’s E1.66bn buy-and-build acquisition of Haarmann & Reimer.

Group head Matthew Roeser said the appointment reflected the group’s intention to play a bigger role in Europe’s growing LBO marketplace. “We expect LBO activity in Europe to be at least the same, if not slightly better than in 2001. We will continue to grow the sponsors team to enable us to participate in the largest deals in the European LBO market.”