Following the setting up of a fund placement business last year, independent investment bank Lazards is building a European buyout operation targeting companies with a value of up to £500 million (€736 million; $934 million), according to the Financial Times.
The newspaper reported that the firm has recruited two senior European private equity professionals, with plans to add at least one more senior figure and junior staff later in the year. Former Cinven director Graham Keniston-Cooper, who left the firm in late 2002, and Advent International partner Victor Vadaneaux have already agreed to join the firm, according to the report.
It was also reported that the bank is going to launch a European buyout fund as part of the strategy.
Lazards’ manoeuvre is in contrast with moves by other investment banks active in Europe which have been keen to put some distance between themselves and private equity. Deutsche Bank and UBS have already stopped making direct investments in privately owned businesses. Earlier this year Abbey National sold the bulk of its private equity fund interests to Coller Capital in a £300 million deal.
In February last year, seven placement professionals at Merrill Lynch, including longstanding Merrills managing directors Ben Sullivan and William Riddle, defected to Lazard to set up the bank’s placement group.