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Wohlin brings Deutsche band back together with virtual push

Hakan Wohlin
By David Rothnie
15 Oct 2020

The former head of global debt capital markets origination at Deutsche Bank has linked up with 40 of his former colleagues to form a capital markets advisory firm very much in the spirit of the times — as a network that operates online — as the coronavirus pandemic forces a rethink of traditional investment banking models.

Hakan Wohlin, who left Deutsche in 2014, has remodelled KingsRock, an advisory firm he set up two years ago, as a global network of Deutsche alumni that collaborates on capital markets work.

Wohlin originally formed KingsRock to advise asset managers on their investments, but has remodelled it as an advisory boutique with global reach that helps clients source private capital or originate investment opportunities.

He is launching the venture at a time when Covid-19 has led to a clampdown on global travel, with many banks banning business travel. That has forced all of capital markets to find new ways to do business — from the home office rather than the trading floor and taking roadshows online.

The Swedish-American, who is based in New York, is making a virtue out of a necessity. “During my years at Deutsche I often spent over 200 days travelling and that helped me build up a substantial global rolodex,” he said. “Now we spend a lot of time on Zoom talking ideas with former colleagues, and there is no need to travel so we can offer a global advisory service without any of the cost burden encountered by big firms. We work with people whom we trust and if a transaction results, we share in the upside.”

KingsRock Advisors aims to provide advice and structured solutions to clients in the private capital arena which are looking to deploy capital. “We’re looking to identify special opportunities for clients,” Wohlin said. “I call it ‘truffle-sniffing.’”

Wohlin formed the business to serve the increasing number of private capital and debt funds that have emerged over the last decade. As well as the creation of global alternative investment behemoths such as Blackstone and Apollo, the private capital boom has involved the expansion of dozens of firms, which is where Wohlin sees an opportunity for KingsRock to compete. “There’s no monopoly on good ideas,” he said.

Advisory networks are nothing new. Global M&A Partners is a partnership of independent corporate finance firms, while Natixis has built its M&A business by taking controlling stakes in a number of investment banking boutiques.

But KingsRock stands for the breadth of its offering, which covers all aspects of capital markets. “We operate across all major industry sectors based on decades of deal-making experience and working together,” Wohlin added. 

What is most striking about KingsRock is that most of its 40-strong affiliated senior advisers are Deutsche Bank alumni, and that number is growing.

The advisers include former Deutsche luminaries such as Kevin Parker, who ran the German bank’s asset management division and is now based in New York where he runs Sustainable Insight Capital Management. Then there is Lou Jaffe, Deutsche’s former head of fixed income sales for the Americas, who is also an affiliate.

Roughly half of them are based in Europe, and in London they include Edward Chandler, a former head of Deutsche’s corporate finance business who established London-based Namier Capital in 2017;  Nick Corcoran, a former managing director in the bank’s corporate risk solutions group who now runs Alethia Group and Stephen Pitts, Deutsche former global head of special situations.

Wohlin is advising on a strategic capital raise for an Indian telecom company with Mumbai-based InCred Capital, an investment and advisory affiliate led by Venky Vishwanathan, Deutsche’s former head of corporate finance for Asia.

Wohlin worked under Deutsche’s former CEO Anshu Jain but he is also an admirer of the current regime. He owns shares in the bank and is a strong supporter of its restructuring plan, adding: “I think Christian Sewing is doing everything right and there is much upside in this story. For example, Germany is an export-led economy so it makes a lot of sense for investment banking and transaction banking to work closely together. “

By David Rothnie
15 Oct 2020