Beren Office PHOTO

Revealed: Germany’s Berenberg targets UK expansion amid M&A boom

Germany-based investment bank Berenberg is one City firm taking Brexit in its stride.

The Hamburg firm, the world’s oldest merchant bank having been founded in 1590, has grown its Square Mile office from 70 to 350 people in the last eight years.

It expects to add up to 100 more London staff over the next 18 months as it targets work on an expected UK boom in corporate takeovers and an anticipated spike in demand for equities analysis after a recent EU regulatory overhaul.

“The partners back at our headquarters in Hamburg have been relaxed both pre- and post-referendum about Brexit,” said Dave Mortlock, head of Berenberg’s London office.

“We have our plan [to grow in the UK] and will look to deliver on that.”

Mr Mortlock said the firm’s existing operations in Germany, from which it can continue to trade across the EU bloc regardless of the outcome of Brexit trade negotiations, meant there was “no obvious reason for us to reshape at all”.

“If other firms leave, we have the opportunity to attract their best talent,” he added.

His comments strike a contrast with other overseas banks in the City, many of which – including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and UBS – have said they will downsize due to Brexit.

Mr Mortlock said Berenberg’s London office would look to more than double the amount of corporate deals it advises on from 17 last year to 50 this year.

Global dealmaking has enjoyed its strongest start to a year in almost two decades, with the value of targeted deals in the UK jumping a third on last year to $21bn (£14.9bn), latest statistics from Dealogic revealed this weekend.

The lion’s share of Berenberg’s work in London is in equities analysis. Mr Mortlock said a recent move by the EU to tighten regulation in this market, called Mifid II, had so far increased demand for its analysis.

Under the changes analysts must explicitly charge customers for their advice, rather than bundling it up with other services.

Mr Mortlock said: “This is a fundamental change for the industry. It’s a challenge and it will take capacity out of the market. But I’m satisfied those that commit like us will get out of it in good shape.”

In full-year results for 2017 Berenberg posted a 69pc rise in equities revenue to €240m (£212m), while its overall staff numbers increased by 70 to 1,576.

Net profits were down 44pc to €90m, although the bank said the previous year’s results were skewed by a one-off gain on the sale of its share in Frankfurt-based investment company Universal Investment.

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