Go west, but not to Chase equities
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Go west, but not to Chase equities

Deutsche Bank wanted to buy it because it wanted a bigger presence in investment banking in the US. Merrill Lynch considered putting in an offer because it wanted to improve its coverage of the technology sector. But Chase Manhattan is the bank that finally secured the 30-year-old California-based investment-banking boutique Hambrecht & Quist. And this time, the rumour mill has it, it's because Chase needs it as a way into equities. Antony Currie reckons that's not the case

Chase can't be too surprised about people focusing on the equities capability that its purchase of Hambrecht & Quist - to be known now as Chase Securities West - adds. This is the bank, after all, that has spent two years courting investment banks in the US, and even some abroad, in the hunt for an equity capital markets operation. And speaking to Euromoney earlier in the year Don Layton, vice-chairman in charge of global markets, said: "Stay tuned. You'll see equity at the right time and in the right way."

Others put it more bluntly. "Chase has been very clear that it wants to have a global equities capability," says Catherine Murray, bank analyst for JP Morgan. "And that it has to be a merger, not an acquisition. That would mean low premiums, so making the shortlist of potential targets very very short." Merrill Lynch has been the most recent whisper in the US, but most have been in the frame at some point or other. As for foreign houses, Chase has been linked to Warburg Dillon Read, where rumours persist that UBS is still considering selling it off. But it has apparently spent more time looking at Schroders, a strange move given the lack of direction the small UK family-owned investment bank has in the US - but it does have a formidable asset management presence, another business that Chase would like to expand into.

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