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Morning Coffee: Barclays discovers UBS isn't the only place poaching its most prized bankers. Young French banker left to deal with clients

An AI rendering of Ihsan Essaid contemplating poaching bankers from Barclays

If you've just been promoted to "sole global head of mergers and acquisitions" at a bank that had $720m of M&A revenues and ranked 10th globally last year, you might at least be inclined to stay a little while. More than two months, say.

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Ihsan Essaid did not feel the urge. Around six weeks after he was crowned sole king of M&A at Barclays, it emerged yesterday that he's leaving. Not for UBS, which spent last year poaching Barclays' disaffected M&A bankers, and which has continued to do so this year, but for an entirely different beast run by an American businessman with a history of consolidating small waste collection companies. 

Essaid is joining Brad Jacobs at his new building products distribution company, QXO. Jacobs has been doing the rounds talking about the potential for consolidation in the $800bn building services sector, which he says is growing at 7% a year. “I looked at many, many different industries and I settled on the one that checked every single box, which was building products distribution. The name of my company is going to be QXO. And M&A will be a big, big component of what we do," Jacobs declared last month. You can see the appeal. 

Barclays, however, is now left with yet another senior exit from its investment banking team. Essaid wasn't like all the ex-Lehman people who left last year - he wasn't annoyed at the hiring of Cathal Deasy or at Barclays' alleged failure to pay promised bonuses in 2022. Instead, he should have been a Deasy loyalist, having joined Barclays from Credit Suisse ahead of him in 2021 (Deasy arrived in 2023). Essaid's exit seems worse. Especially because Barclays now needs to increase its M&A and investment banking revenues to avoid much higher cost cuts. 

Essaid has sidestepped this pressure. At QXO he will presumably be able to identify low hanging building products distribution companies at a less fervent pace and will get to work alongside Jacobs as a quirky colleague rather than client. He will also receive an education in identifying deception through body language and choice of words, a training which Essaid says all his staff go through. This might have been beneficial during bonus discussions at Barclays; at QXO it's used during interviews and due diligence. "When we're interviewing people, people sometimes spin. They don't tell you the straight story and if you can figure out what's baloney and what's true, wow, you can save a lot of aggravation and a lot of money and you can avoid a lot of mistakes," Jacobs told Bloomberg. If you interview for a job at QXO Essaid, choose your words carefully.

Separately, Bloomberg reports that when Barings' senior private credit professionals left in search of more than $1m in pay for Nomura-backed Corinthia Global Management in March this year, one comparatively junior person suddenly became the most senior person in the London office. 

Antoine Gosselin-Mercury appears to be in his early 30s. He started working in Paris in 2013 and joined Barings in 2021. It's not clear how Antoine fared when all his senior colleagues disappeared, but he is equipped to have some interesting conversations with clients: alongside finance and economics, he has a qualification in contemporary French art in the 19th and 20th centuries. 

Meanwhile...

CIBC has also been poaching from Barclays. It's hired Brad Aston for leveraged finance coverage. (Bloomberg) 

Deutsche Bank is winding down Numis's operations in the US. (Telegraph) 

EquiLibre Technologies, a systematic trading start-up based in Prague and founded by PhDs who've worked at IBM and are experts in using AI to play poker,  are creating algorithms for Tower Research Capital. (Bloomberg) 

Edmund Koh, Asia Pacific president at UBS, says the job cuts there are mostly over. (Bloomberg)

UBS has grown its M&A team 25% since acquiring Credit Suisse and is saying things like: “We’re ambitious and want to grow market share and have already demonstrated that we are able to compete and win big deals globally.” (Financial News)  

Saudi IPOs are thriving. “The high demand can be attributed to several factors: an influx of hedge fund managers, substantial appetite from retail investors facilitated by up to 10 times leverage from banks, and the ease of subscribing through digital channels.” (Bloomberg) 

Fintech firm Symphony wants to hire 34 people in Belfast. (Irish News) 

Engineers Gate is building out a Singapore office under Rafael Andreata. (Business Insider) 

When you cover tech companies it helps to wear pink trousers. (NY Post)

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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