The French banking boutiques you may never have heard of
Paris is the “new London”, according to some, or at the very least a “new Mayfair”, home to a multitude of new hedge funds that have grasped opportunities after Brexit.
The French capital's investment banking scene, however, far predates Brexit – in some cases, by hundreds of years – and the city is not only home to multinational banks but also to a number of poorly understood but rather opaque boutiques serving the local market.
Which are the these boutiques? We've listed them for you below.
Messier & Associés
Messier & Associés was founded in 2010 by Jean-Marie Messier and Erik Maris (creating Messier Maris), although the latter left the firm in 2020 to join private equity firm Advent International as a partner. Maris is also the former head of Lazard France and a reasonably successful endurance racer. Messier, meanwhile, is the former CEO of Vivendi and the current head of the boutique – which was majority acquired by Italian Mediobanca in 2020. It’s based in Paris.
Bucephale was founded in 2004 by Jean-Marc Forneri, who still heads up the bank - he was Credit Suisse’s vice chairman for Europe before that. The bank has “over 10” experience professionals, and most recently worked for the French lottery system, FDJ, to acquire French payments processor Aleda.
Founded in 2009 by a pair of UBS investment bankers, Pascal Herve and former vice-chairman of UBS Europe Dominique Bazy, Barber Hauler is a Paris-based boutique advising small and medium cap transactions. It’s currently involved in defense contractor Safran’s acquisition of Thales’ “aeronautical electrical systems” business.
Cambon was founded in 2003 by David Salabi, former head of M&A for boutique bank MGt. His former bank was focused on internet companies – a philosophy which has continued onto Cambon, which now focuses on “growth companies”. Cambon has four offices: its headquarters in Paris, as well as offices in London, San Francisco, and Beijing.
Ohana & Co
Paris-based with offices in New York and Los Angeles, Ohana was founded by Ariel Ohana and is now led by him and family members Karine and Laurent Ohana, as well as ex-Solomon Partners Aimee Troyen. It most recently advised sportswear brand Sergio Tacchini in its sale to Korean giant F&F. Ohana was founded in 1994.
Sycomore Corporate Finance
Sycomore was founded in 2012 by Olivier Barret, Pierre-Arnaud de Lacharrière, and François Vigne. Barret is the former head of investment banking for France, Belgium, and Luxembourg for Credit Suisse. De Lacharrière is a former banker for boutique firm Hawkpoint, and Vigne is SocGen’s former deputy global head of industry. Sycomore is based in Paris.
Part private bank and part boutique, Hottinguer is slightly older than other banks on the list, having been founded in 1786, although the investment boutique was only founded in 1989. The bank is currently headed up by Pierre de Bousingen and has “22 bankers and private wealth managers”, all but three being based in Paris.
Founded in 2020 by former Natixis managing partner Jean-Baptiste Marchand, Amala Partners is an LBO-focused firm that focuses on mid cap firms. The firm has at least 6 managing partners currently, most recently adding Nicolas Royer from Canadian boutique Canaccord Genuity. Amala is based in Paris.
Natixis Partners is a subsidiary of investment bank Natixis, focused on M&A services in France. The bank has 90 bankers, by its own count, making it the largest bank on the list (and maybe not really a boutique at all), by some margin. CEO Patrick Maurel joined the bank seven years ago from boutique Afoge.
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