United First Hires Ex-Gartmore COO, Plans to Grow Staff by 100
United First Partners, the London- based brokerage specializing in merger arbitrage, has hired Brian Mitchell and plans to increase its workforce by as much as five times in the next two years to grow its business.
Mitchell, the former chief operating officer of defunct asset manager Gartmore Group Ltd., started this week as head of business development, said United First founding partner Michael Hadjedj in an interview. The brokerage plans to open its New York office later this year and may hire as many as 100 people in London and New York to add to the current staff of 22, he added.
“Despite difficult market conditions, we have gained significant market share versus investment banks over the past 18 months,” said Hadjedj, who will move to New York from London to oversee the inception of the North American operation. “We are confident that a mixture of our industry expertise and our in-depth research-driven product will continue to differentiate us from our competitors.”
European banks including UBS AG (UBSN), Barclays Plc and HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) have announced more than 70,000 job cuts since midyear, compared with 42,000 by U.S. peers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Layoffs come as banks struggle to boost profits amid stricter regulation and credit-market stress.
United First was formed in 2009 by Hadjedj, who headed the special-situations and merger-arbitrage desk at ICAP Plc (IAP) in London. The firm has more than 150 clients and aims to open the Manhattan office before the end of the year, Hadjedj said.
Mitchell, who joined as a partner, will help expand United First beyond event-driven analysis and into more traditional single-stock research and sales sought by the largest asset managers, Hadjedj said. Mitchell has almost two decades of experience in buy-side firms such as Baring Asset Management and Fleming Investment Management, according to Bloomberg data.
United First has also hired Olivier Saez, an investment banker from JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), to boost its special- situations research team to six, and Nicolas Lyle, an analyst who covered real-estate stocks at HSBC until this year, Hadjedj said.
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