The chief of financial advisory and asset management giant Lazard has said he is a “bull” on the UK despite warnings of the City’s decline on the international stage.
Kenneth Jacobs, who has served as chief of the storied New York-headquartered firm since 2009, said Lazard was still upbeat on the prospects of the UK and believes the country will “surprise to the positive”.
“I’m a bull here. In many ways the UK has this immense amount of intellectual capital in all the right places right now,” Jacobs told The Sunday Times in an interview. “The university system in the UK, it’s gone from good to great.”
Jacobs is also soon expected to step down from his role and hand the reins to Peter Orszag, who currently runs the investment bank’s financial advisory unit, Reuters reported on Friday.
Jacobs’ comments on the UK will be well received in City circles, however, after a gloomy period in which City grandees have fretted over the decline in status of the UK on the international stage post-Brexit.’
Square Mile figures are looking to reshape the role and narrative around London as a financial centre after a series of worrying blows in which firms have seemingly ditched the capital in favour of New York.
Lazard has also faced a tough period, in which it has been rocked by the slump in dealmaking in tricky market conditions. The firm was recently forced to lay off ten per cent of staff globally, about 340 jobs, to contain its costs amid the chill in deals.
The New York firm, which has major operations in London and Paris alongside, reported an 80 per cent plunge in fourth-quarter profit in February on the back of a decline in deals, netting $42m.
Revenue from its advisory business tumbled 34 per cent to $404m compared to the previous year as dealmaking dried up.