The Canadian Investment Banking Market Debriefed
A look into the different players that dominate the investment banking landscape in Canada
14 Mar, 2012 7:49
2012 is going to be a busy year for Canadian firms. According to a survey conducted by PWC released in late February, CEOs have a bold agenda for this upcoming year, with 66% of them anticipating changes to their companies’ strategies. Plans include the use of traditional M&A, restructuring, joint ventures, and strategic alliances as tools to yield growth. According to the report, 25% of Canadian companies plan to engage in M&A activity, compared to a global average of 12%.
The aforementioned statistics reflect Canada’s growing presence in the global M&A market. In fact, in 2011 Canada represented 10% of global M&A deals by value, up from the previous high of 7% back in 2007. With the makings of a transformative deal execution environment in Canada, it’s important to assess the domestic investment banks that stand to profit:
RBC Capital Markets—the investment banking arm of the Royal Bank of Canada—is by far the largest player among the Canadian firms. RBC has total assets of $655 billion, and of its net revenues, their Capital Markets division represent 21.3%, or $5.9 billion. RBC ranks near the top in almost all areas as seen by the chart below:
BMO Capital Markets has had a great year in 2011. According to Thomson Reuters estimates, the firm had a 21% increase in fees in 2011, in great contrast to the average global 6% decrease. Additionally, BMO Capital Markets has been named the World’s Best Metals and Mining Investment Bank by Global Finance Magazine for a second year in a row. This reputation is reflected by their position as leading equity underwriter by market share in the North American Mining industry:
Notable activity in 2011 included BMO’s position as Lead Underwriter in Franco-Nevada Corp.’s $340 million equity issuance, done on a bought deal basis.
TD Securities, the investment banking division of TD Bank Group, is another dominant player in the Canadian market, and is the second largest domestic bank by assets, with $557.2 billion. Their Investment Banking and Capital Market operations represent 7.94% of their net revenue this past year, or $1.73 billion. Below is a quick overview of where TD Securities ranks in the major product segments:
Desjardins Securities is a smaller player in terms of overall investment banking business, but it is growing, and has consistently been able to maintain a strong presence in the Quebec market. They participated in more than 150 new bond issuances in 2010, ranked as the 8th largest underwriter of fixed income securities in Canada in 2011, and over the past 3 years have consistently been ranked among the top 3 debt underwriters in the Quebec market.
As the Capital Markets division is in high growth phase, Desjardins has acquired a strong team of top talent individuals to spur growth in that business segment, which resulted in a relatively top-heavy employee structure when compared to other banks. Notable hires include Martin Labrecque, the current Managing Director of Fixed Income Sales, who joined Desjardins in 2006 after working for J.P. Morgan’s Fixed Income desk for several years. Additionally, Pierre Morin, Managing Director and Head of Fixed Income, joined Desjardins in 2006 after his time with Goldman Sachs in Toronto, and Antoine Avril joined in 2010 as the Managing Director of Corporate Banking with several years of experience in London working for Deutsche Bank.
For CIBC World Markets, the wholesale banking arm of CIBC, the big story in 2011 was the fact that it ousted Goldman Sachs & Co. to become this past year’s Canadian M&A leader. CIBC advised and worked on 38 lucrative deals, including advising Equinox Minerals Ltd. on its sale to Barrick Gold Corp. The top M&A dealers in the Canadian 2011 market are listed below:
Investment Banking Business Outlook:
Globally, there is cautious optimism for M&A activity this year. According to Bloomberg’s Global M&A Outlook poll, experts cite “weak economic growth and sovereign debt issues as significant potential obstacles to deal making in the coming year.” However, attractive stock valuations and huge cash stock piles present an opportunity; with inflation in Canada and the US hitting 2.3% and 2.9% respectively in January, much higher than the low returns offered in liquid low risk securities, North American companies definitely have an incentive to invest. In Canada, high commodity prices and record levels of liquidity on balance sheets could prove to be a catalyst for domestic firms to engage in M&A, especially out west, as large energy firms strive to improve their competitive advantage by acquiring smaller, more specialized companies.
It is also very important to consider the US market, as 45% of the Canadian CEO’s surveyed in PWC’s Annual Global CEO Survey said they are looking outside of Canada. According to the Bloomberg 2011 Annual Mergers & Acquisitions Legal Advisory Rankings, the “concern about sovereign debt was identified by about 25 percent of survey respondents as the biggest obstacle [to deal making].” However, recent developments in Europe, though not a silver bullet, have seemed to calm the highly volatile markets. Increasingly, it seems as though investors are less worried about the extent to which the US economy is exposed to Europe; according to economist Paul Krugman, total US exports of goods to Europe is just 2% of GDP, or 2.5% including services, so a sharp fall in exports to Europe would be only a small hit to demand. As for the other form of indirect exposure that is a concern, counterparty risk, the ECB’s vast liquidity injections via their longer-term refinancing operations, or LTRO, has allowed banks to plug their funding needs, and thus has greatly reduced—albeit not eliminated—the risk of a Lehman-style global liquidity crisis and credit crunch. The increasing divergence between the performance of the S&P 500 and the performance of the Bloomberg European 500 Index seems to reflect these statistics, and suggests that investors are beginning to recognize that the US economy is not as sensitive to Europe as thought before. With markets reflecting optimism over the main issue that was curbing M&A activity in 2011, 2012 offers an environment that fosters deal making in the US, and thus one that tailors well to Canadian firm’s international expansionary goals.
With the aforementioned catalysts in Canada, and the market-reflected decreasing sensitivity to Europe, all signs point to a busy year for Canadian firms, and thus Canadian investment banks.