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Germany’s top boutique investment banks

The first quarter of 2023 is done (phew), and things haven’t started swimmingly for everyone. It’s been a mixed quarter for both Europe and for boutique banks – specialised banks that offer M&A services.

What is a boutique?

Exactly that – a specialised (investment) bank that focuses on offering M&A advisory services. That’s not all they do, of course. They also offer capital markets services, as well as asset management in some cases. They employ much fewer people than a bulge bracket or middle market bank, but the pay at the top of the boutique hierarchy beats out both.

What is a German boutique?

A boutique bank in a country in Central Europe.

Gunnar Kühne, managing director of GKES - Gunnar Kühne Executive Search GmbH in Frankfurt – said that boutiques have been “hiring opportunistically in Germany and are making the most of people leaving bulge bracket banks.”

A number of boutiques are hiring in the country, including Bryan Garnier, Piper Sandler, and RW Baird.

We’ve taken a look at the boutique banks that have had the biggest 2022s (by deal volume) in Germany, courtesy of market intelligence firm Dealogic, to give a picture of what the year looked like for the industry’s German operations.

Perella Weinberg Partners

Perella Weinberg Partners (PWP) is a New York-based bank that dealt with more deal volume than the next two banks on the list combined. It opened its German office in Munich back in 2020 – its third in Europe. Oh, and the pay is lavish, despite a pay cut for the year – it stood at $839k. Per head.

PJT Partners

PJT, in a difficult year for the investment banking industry, managed to increase its revenues in 2022 over 2021 – something than even many other boutiques failed to do. Its pay is also spectacular, and stood somewhere around $740k per head over 2022, a slight decline YoY. It has an office in Frankfurt.

Evercore

The biggest boutique investment banks in the world, Evercore had a disappointing 2022, and only paid $801k a head (down from $958k). It was beaten to second in the German M&A rankings by less than two percent. Evercore has had an office in Germany since 2015, when it acquired Frankfurt-based boutique firm Kuna & Co.

Robey Warshaw

A tiny British boutique, Robey Warshaw beat out a lot of bigger banks to secure fourth in 2022’s German rankings - it doesn't even have an office in Germany. It’s best known for counting former British chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne as a partner, and pays exceptionally – of its four partners, the best-paid received £17.2m ($21.4m) in 2022, whilst its 13 employees got £511k ($637k) per head.

Centerview Partners

Another bank without a German presence, Centerview Partners managed to take fifth place in Germany and pay, once again, exceptionally well in the process. In the UK it paid £294k ($354k) per head, not including the £54m ($65m) it distributed to its partners – an average of £6.8m ($8.2m) each.

Houlihan Lokey

Unlike certain banks ranking above it, New York-based Houlihan Lokey does actually have a substantial German presence, with offices in Frankfurt and Munich, which rewarded it with sixth in the deal volume rankings. It dealt with many more individual transactions than other banks – nearly as many as the rest of the top ten combined.

Jamieson Corporate Finance

Another tiny British boutique, Jamieson Corporate Finance (JCF) does actually have a German office in Frankfurt. It’s also got London, New York, Amsterdam, and Madrid offices, which is surprisingly cosmopolitan for a bank with 35 people. The Frankfurt office is headed up by Felix Rose, a former Morgan Stanley M&A banker.

Moelis & Co.

New York-based Moelis, which has an office in Frankfurt, doesn’t seem to pay as well as some other competitors (both boutiques and big banks). That doesn’t mean it doesn’t do a good job – its former German head of M&A, Jan Caspar Hoffman, has joined rival Alantra as its German CEO.

FIH Partners

A boutique based only in Copenhagen might not be what you expect above some other banks in this list (at least it’s closer to Germany than New York, for what that’s worth), but FIH Partners is exactly where it should be. It only advised on one German deal in 2022 – the sale of some wind turbines in the North Sea.

Greenhill & Co.

Another bank with a German footprint, Greenhill was found in 1996 any pays pretty well – although, last we heard, bonuses for juniors were late. Its German office is headed up by Phillip Meyer-Horn, who joined the bank in 2006 after 4 years as a managing director at BNP Paribas.

Metzler Seel Sogn & Co.

Finally, one based in Germany. Usually just called Metzler, the 350-year old bank is Germany’s second oldest (after Berenberg), and is still headed up by the founding family (namely, Friedrich von Metzler). Based in Frankfurt, the bank also has offices in Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Stuttgart, and Munich in Germany, as well as Beijing, Tokyo, and the USA.

CASE Corporate Finance

Much younger than Metzler (by about 340 years) and much smaller, CASE Corporate Finance also only has four offices – Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam, and Milan. It was founded by Nicolas de Canecaude, the former head of French & Belgian M&A for the Royal Bank of Scotland. Fellow partners Marcus Bär and Marc Philipp Becker were also RBS M&A directors.

Carlsquare

Carlsquare is slightly older than CASE, but still much younger than Metzler. The bank was exclusively based in Europe until earlier this month, when it merged with San Francisco-based Capital Clarity. Carlsquare's head office is in Hamburg, with additional offices in Berlin, Munich, Stockholm, Copenhagen, and London. It was founded by Mark Miller and Michael Moritz.

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Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: Zeno.Toulon@efinancialcareers.com in the first instance.

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AUTHORZeno Toulon

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