Ahead of Brexit, some banks quietly shift M&A bankers to Frankfurt

Mon Nov 7, 2016 6:38am EST
 
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By Anjuli Davies

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Global banks are quietly building up their investment banking teams in Frankfurt as the German deals market hots up, boosting the city's chances of being one of the financial centers to benefit most from Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

A surge of Chinese investment in Europe's largest economy and an expected pick-up in merger activity across Germany's chemical, manufacturing and drugs industries have prompted banks to base more staff in Germany. This is contrary to the usual approach of putting most of their deal-makers in London. 

The trend puts Frankfurt in a good position to benefit from any shift of banking activity out of London after the Brexit vote, already bolstered by playing host to the European Central Bank and the EU's second biggest capital market, city and banking industry officials say. 

"Germany is becoming a much more important market because it represents an increasing share of the global banking fee wallet," Alexander Doll, CEO of Barclays Germany (BARC.L: Quote) told Reuters.

When Britain leaves the EU it is widely expected that financial firms based in London will lose their "passporting" rights - an EU system that lets them operate across the bloc but be under the supervision of just one country's regulators.

That's prompting other financial centers like Paris, Dublin and Luxembourg to encourage banks, insurers and fund managers to build up outposts in their cities and obtain "passports" there.

Unlike other European countries, Germany has so far refrained from 'rolling out the red carpet' to bankers by offering big tax breaks or sending major government officials on big promotion trips, relying instead on a more low-key approach.

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Ships are seen on river Main in front of the characteristic skyline with its banking towers in Frankfurt, October 30, 2013. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach