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People and MarketsComment

BPCE's big buy


It's a new start for Natixis, and also for ex-Labour Party leadership contender Chuka Umunna.

BPCE is planning to buy the 29% stake in Natixis it does not already own, and it is also looking into splitting the latter up by putting corporate and investment banking operations and asset and wealth management into a "global financial services" structure and the remaining bits — insurance and payments — into its retail businesses.

According to insiders, Natixis's structured finance franchise in sectors like infrastructure will provide a basis for a new strategy. Some also say that the CIB will have greater capacity for underwriting within BPCE.

The deal comes as public equity investors are not looking too favourably on the banking sector. BPCE said: "Natixis’s listing does not provide the means required for the development of its activities, whereas the strategic flexibility is greater within Groupe BPCE than the public equity markets."

Natixis CIB's big struggle this year has been in the equity business, with its derivatives franchise getting into trouble. However, in the fourth quarter — the results for which it released last week — matters improved, as the equity division recorded its best quarter for revenues since 2018.

On the other side of la Manche, the bank's French rival BNP Paribas has hired Kirshlen Moodley for its UK advisory team. Moodley was previously in JP Morgan's UK M&A team and was also a leading activist defence banker at the US house.

For its part, JP Morgan has hired someone else with a fair bit of experience in activism, albeit of a difference kind. It has picked former UK politician and member of parliament for Labour, Change UK and the Liberal Democrats Chuka Umunna as head of ESG for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Umunna will bring together existing client-facing ESG operations in the banking business, working in particular with Rama Variankaval, who leads a new Centre for Carbon Transition at the bank.

If banking provides a home for a fair number of politicians, where do former bankers go? Several have turned up at Deloitte, and the latest is Guy Stevens, formerly at UBS as head of FIG for central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa and also covering large cap banks in the UK and western Europe.

At the Big Four firm, he will work in the FIG group in the corporate finance advisory business.

Finally, three other notable sustainability-related hires. JP Morgan Asset Management has appointed Axa Investment Managers' Yo Takatsuki as head of investment stewardship for EMEA. Takatsuki has been a key figure in the development of the transition bond market.

And Lombard Odier has hired Peter Pulkkinen and Rhys Marsh as portfolio managers. The pair have joined to develop sustainable private credit strategies.