Hit the road, Jack
Capital markets bankers are starting to prepare for the inevitable return of the roadshow
Love them or loathe them, bond roadshows are coming back to a major financial centre near you, even if some bankers admit they are "categorically" unnecessary these days.
The pandemic has proved that debt can be marketed perfectly well from the comfort of one's own home, and this method is obviously more efficient than holding big breakfasts or lunches in hotels, plus one-on-one meetings.
In fact, the process became so quick during the Covid-19 crisis that investors started to complain that they didn't have enough time to assess deals.
The success of online roadshows has led many in the industry to question the logic of bringing the physical version back at all.
"I'm pretty sure if you polled 10 investors, eight of them will tell you to get lost," said a syndicate banker. "They’re actually quite happy sitting at home in their pyjamas doing teleconferences or video conferences or just looking at Netroadshows, rather than having to get dressed, get on public transport, go and sit in a room with somebody who they may have met already twice."
There are some bankers and issuers who feel the same way, especially given the recent rise in Covid-19 cases. And yet everyone is convinced that the roadshow will make a come-back, in more or less the same form as before.
The question is, why? Suggestions have included: issuers wanting to look like "pioneers" by being the first to return to the road; wanting to appear to be "going the extra mile" to meet investors; maintaining a sense of self-importance; pure boredom.
"At the end of the day, everyone likes a good jolly," said the syndicate banker. "We all know that. But it’s not fundamental to the efficient workings of the market."
However, with strict travel restrictions still in place, it will be a while before the globetrotting can begin again in earnest.
One banker who will presumably be putting in some air miles next year, restrictions permitting, is Scandinavian syndicate veteran Derry Hubbard, who is joining SEB in December after five years with Danske.
In his new role as global head of syndicate and head of euro products, Hubbard will be based in Copenhagen but is expected to pop up from time to time in other SEB offices such as Stockholm, Oslo and Frankfurt.
Speaking of Scandinavia, Handelsbanken has hired the former CFO of the Nordic Investment Bank, Björn Ordell, as head of sustainable finance and debt advisory in Stockholm, and Ulrik Ross recently returned to international banking at BNP Paribas in Copenhagen. The French bank has identified the Nordics as a priority region, growing its headcount from around 600 to 900 in the past three years under the leadership of Eirik Winter.
Heading southeast from there, Citi is bringing in a banker from Asia to oversee its central Europe cluster from Prague. Munir Nanji, who was previously located in Singapore, replaces Kevin Murray, who has just retired.
Rothschild settles in New England
Meanwhile, in the US, London-based independent investment bank Rothschild & Co has opened an office in Boston as part of its expansion into North America.
The venerable banking house appears to have its sights set on US private equity M&A in particular, having hired not one but two senior financial sponsors investment bankers from Truist Securities in the past couple of months.
Bob Berry is the most recent addition and will be based in the brand new Boston office. The other hire from Truist, Timothy Lufkin, is based in New York. Berry and Lufkin also worked together in the 1990s at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.