December 5, 2023

Investment Banking

Let Your Investment Banking Do The Walking

Spain’s Santander Sees US Hiring Opportunity as Banks Prepare Cuts

(Bloomberg) — Banco Santander SA sees an opportunity to hire Wall Street bankers laid off by larger rivals as it seeks to expand in the US.

The Spanish lender, aiming to become a leader among second-tier lenders in the US, expects to increase the number of bankers at its securities and advisory unit, José Linares, head of corporate and investment banking, said in an interview. While he said that the bank doesn’t plan to hire extensively, he does “expect to steadily grow our team.”

“I see this as a great opportunity,” Linares said. “We have a business that is growing, and we should, therefore, take advantage of the market situation where that makes sense.”

The ex-JPMorgan Chase & Co. banker is leading a drive for growth in US investment banking after Santander’s €600 million acquisition of broker Amherst Pierpoint Securities LLP, one of 25 primary dealers for the U.S. Federal Reserve. The firm’s push into the US sets it apart from European rivals such as Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA or BNP Paribas SA, which have reduced their footprint there.

The Amherst deal, which was completed in November, strengthened Santander’s position in fixed income and provided it with access to more than 1,300 new institutional investors to whom Santander can “channel emerging market and European products,” Linares said.

Linares said Santander has no plans to take on the bulge-bracket investment banks on their home turf and will instead focus on niches such as brokerage or advising on renewable energy deals. The Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act “is creating an incredible opportunity in infrastructure” as well as in renewable energy, two sectors where the lender considers itself a leader, he said.

US firms including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are among Wall Street firms to have signaled that job cuts are coming as soon as this month.

In August, Santander named Mike Bagguley, a former chief operating officer at Barclays International, to run its global markets division. In the US, it hired Carlos Rivero to oversee its energy transition and sustainable advisory practice, one of the niches where Linares sees room for the bank to become a global leader. 

The US division accounted for about 15% of Santander’s total income in the first 9 months of 2022 and about a fifth of underlying profit.

Prior to joining Santander in 2017, Linares spent almost two decades at JPMorgan, first as a research analyst and later as an investment banker helping set up the firm’s continental European operations.

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