(Bloomberg) — Stockholm-based Carnegie Investment Bank AB is compensating for a downturn in its equity capital markets business through increased activity in mergers and acquisitions, according to Chief Executive Officer Bjorn Jansson.
The privately-owned advisory firm was the top arranger of initial public offerings in the Nordic region last year but listings have since slowed to a trickle amid broad market turbulence and plunging share prices.
“We’ve seen an increase in M&A activity in the first half of the year,” Jansson said in an interview. “So they are offsetting each other a little bit, even if it’s not compensating fully as the ECM market is down more.”
And while the volatility means “some IPOs have been postponed and some of them have become M&A instead,” Jansson says the ECM market isn’t completely closed and pointed to two listings arranged by Carnegie last month, Fastighetsbolaget Emilshus AB and Engcon AB.
The bank has no plans to cut back its workforce despite the sharp contrast with last year’s deal volumes, according to Jansson. “In a historical perspective, it’s still a very strong first half year,” he said. “We have no problem keeping our staff busy with profitable projects.”
Carnegie was ranked the number one underwriter of initial public offerings on Nordic exchanges in 2021 with a 17.5% market share, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The bank was ahead of ABG Sundal Collier Holding SA, which had a 10.5% market share, and SEB AB with 10%, the data show.
Read More: Sweden Joins Europe’s Big League for Listings in Record Year
The bank itself has long been the subject of speculation in Swedish media about a listing given its private equity owners. The lender was bought by Bure Equity AB and a fund controlled by Altor Equity Partners AB in 2009 from the Swedish National Debt Office, which bailed out the then troubled bank in the wake of the global financial crisis. Bure sold its stake to Altor in 2012.
“Our private equity owners most certainly will put the company up for a sale at some point, having owned it for 13 years,” he said. “There will come a day, I’m completely convinced of it.”
Adding fuel to the speculation of a possible IPO was an announcement in May that the bank’s parent, Carnegie Holding, intended to buy Swedish fund manager Carnegie Fonder with the aim of reorganizing the group into four units, asset management, private banking, securities and investment banking.
“What we want is to get more recurring revenues,” Jansson said of the planned changes. The CEO says he expects Sweden’s financial watchdog to publish its opinion on the deal in the fall, “and only then can we complete the acquisition.”
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