OCCASIONALLY the move of a key employee from one investment house to another inadvertently sums up the varying fortunes of the two groups involved in the transfer. And so it is with James Eves, who has quit UBS after 11 years to join RBC Capital Markets in its pan-European financials team.
Eves leaves UBS shortly after the rogue trader scandal that has rocked the Swiss-based bank and has led to question marks being raised over the future of its investment banking business.
The group is nowhere near the powerhouse it was in the days when the Warburg name it bought up was a sign of its colossal strength, and although it maintains a strong base of corporate clients in the UK it does not have the feel of a group on the up.
RBC, the bank Eves is joining, along with another hire, Johnny Vo, who is joining on the insurance team, does not yet have the same pedigree in the London markets as UBS but the Canadian institution is fast picking up clients and key players from rivals.
Its tremendously successful resources team has just picked up the joint brokership of President Petroleum, the oil exploration group run by Peter Levine, formerly of Imperial Energy. The group, which has assets in Louisiana and Argentina, has hired RBC to replace Evolution Securities – which is in the process of negotiating its own merger terms with Investec – whilst retaining RBS as a joint broker.
Levine is working alongside former Imperial Energy colleague John Hamilton. The pair grew Imperial Energy from a $50m company into a $2.6bn FTSE 250 group over five years. Imperial was focused on Russia, particularly Siberia and was sold to ONGC of India in 2009.
One source close to President Petroleum said RBC “felt like a good name at a key time” for the company which is intent on expanding.
Other mandate wins are on the horizon, I am told, and would follow recent broking mandates from Ithaca Energy, Centamin Egypt and First Quantum Minerals.
Speaking to bankers from any of the traditional top players in the UK markets, such as JP Morgan, Credit Suisse and Goldman, one is always reminded what a difficult task a bank like RBC has in breaking into the top tier of the London advisory elite. Equally it is notable how resilient UBS has been in previous times of crisis and instability.
Nevertheless, the Eves move could be a sign of shifting sands in the City pecking order.
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