Banks on M&A hiring drive

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Investment banks are stepping up recruitment in European mergers and acquisitions departments following a surge in deals.

UBS is looking for associates and vice-presidents to join its team in Europe. Citigroup is targeting managing directors, Lehman Brothers is hiring selectively and Merrill Lynch wants to boost its M&A team. Banks usually wait until after the bonus season ends in February before making hires. However, recruitment firms have said this year is an exception.

James Heath, a recruitment consultant with Greenwich Partners, said: "Many banks are interviewing people from rivals with a view to them resigning when bonuses are paid in the new year. Increasingly, though, we are seeing sign-ons and buy-outs of bonuses."

Most of Europe's top-tier banks have M&A teams with senior staff, but many have found that they need experienced junior bankers at the associate and vice-president level to cope with the boom. Last week, €19.3bn ($23bn) worth of deals were announced in Europe, while European targeted M&A increased to €630.4bn in the first nine months of this year, compared with €389.3bn in the same period last year.

Krista Parker, a recruitment consultant with search firm Badenoch & Clark, said: "We have seen a dramatic increase in banks looking to hire in M&A." A UBS spokesman said: "We are looking out for talent with selective add-ons. We are not launching a big hiring programme."

Meanwhile, Citigroup has reshuffled its technology, media and telecoms investment banking senior management. The new appointments fill a gap in the senior management line-up at Citigroup, which has not had a dedicated head of European TMT since it promoted Mark Simonian to co-head the sector globally from London as part of its last management reshuffle in June 2004.

Wendell Brooks and Bill Kennish have been promoted to head the European team. Kennish led Citigroup's work advising Vodafone on a potential bid for Czech group Cesky Telecom, while Brooks' recent accolades include advising UK media company Pearson on the sale of its stake in Spanish outfit Recoletos in February. Matthew Smith and Jan Werner join the team as internal hires.

Citigroup has also promoted Eric Medow to co-head its North American communications team with Dan Richards, while Steve Winningham will return to the US team in a coverage role after spending three years in Hong Kong.

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