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Opinion

Where the gold lies in European FIG

European bank mergers should be of more interest to European than US investment banks.

dominoes-line-free-600
FIG bankers talk of the need for a deal that might have a domino effect

The financial institutions group is the traditional core to an investment bank’s coverage model. And although China’s banking sector might now be bigger by assets, Europe remains key to any globally relevant team of advisers to financial institutions. Conducting big bank mergers has been especially hard in Europe over the last few years, and not just because of regulatory uncertainty.

Now, with a new Basel agreement, the regulatory outlook is clearing. European banks have strengthened their balance sheets and cut costs. However, the big European banks will still not spend much time thinking about transformative cross-border mergers, even if it would lead to greater convergence of the continent’s financial sector – a central aim of the EU and the European Central Bank. This is partly thanks to lingering national barriers to the flow of capital and liquidity. No one really expected the sale last year of Banco Popular to be to anyone else other than another Spanish bank, for example. 

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