Stifel to Use German Bank to `Spearhead' European Union Push

(Bloomberg) -- Germany’s MainFirst Bank AG will lead Stifel Financial Corp.’s effort to build a business across the European Union once the U.S. company has taken it over.

At the same time, MainFirst will expand into M&A advisory, fixed income and debt capital markets, board member Ebrahim Attarzadeh said in an interview. Until now, the Frankfurt-based firm has focused on equity research and brokerage services. MainFirst will “spearhead” Stifel’s drive in the region, according to Attarzadeh.

The U.S. company already has a bigger presence in the U.K., but not in Mainland Europe. The MainFirst deal will increase Stifel’s European workforce by about 50 percent and enable the company to offer financial services in the EU after Britain leaves the bloc.

Stifel plans to keep the MainFirst brand for about two years and, according to Attarzadeh, the German company’s workforce of 150 people will grow in the long term. Both he and Bjoern Kirchner -- who jointly manage MainFirst -- have agreed to stay for at least three years.

The added cost of conforming to Europe’s MiFID II finance rules will continue to drive the industry’s consolidation by making it harder for smaller brokerages to thrive, according to Attarzadeh. “We will see more such transactions in Germany over the next 12 to 18 months,” he said.

Stifel to Use German Bank to `Spearhead' European Union Push

Stifel agreed to buy MainFirst Holding AG’s equity research and brokerage operations -- now known as MainFirst Bank -- last month. The deal, which won’t affect MainFirst’s Asset Management, is expected to be completed in the first quarter.

The move by Stifel comes after U.S. buyout firm Cerberus Capital Management emerged as one of the biggest investors in Germany’s banking industry. Cerberus owns stakes in Deutsche Bank AG and Commerzbank AG and, along with companies including Apollo Global Management LLC, is vying to buy a stake in state-owned NordLB.

“Stifel is committed to growing in Europe, and we expect MainFirst to be a supportive partner in this vision,” said Eithne O’Leary, president of the U.S. company’s European operation.

MainFirst itself completed an acquisition earlier this month. The company bought the institutional brokerage business in European equities from Raymond James Financial Inc. in Paris and London. As a result, the number of European shares covered by MainFirst climbed by about a quarter to 400.

Original Story:
MainFirst soll ’Speerspitze’ von Stifels Europa-Expansion werden

Reporter on the original story: Stephan Kahl in Frankfurt at skahl@bloomberg.net

Editors responsible for the original story: Erhard Krasny at ekrasny@bloomberg.net;Andrew Blackman at ablackman@bloomberg.net

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