CLSA Considering Acquisitions as Rivals Retrench, Slone Says

CLSA CEO Jonathan Slone
Jonathan Slone, chairman and chief executive officer of CLSA Ltd. Photographer: Patrick Fallon/Bloomberg

CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, the brokerage unit of Credit Agricole SA being bought by Citic Securities Co., is itself seeking acquisition targets as rivals struggle amid the financial crisis.

“There could be an acquisition somewhere,” Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Slone said in a Bloomberg Television interview today. “We’re looking at some really interesting venues right now.”

The financial industry was “too bullish” early last year, and investment banks and brokerages that got too big are now being forced to pare back or exit, Slone said. Deutsche Bank AG is among those retrenching as it eliminates as many as 1,900 jobs. Slone cited the U.S. and Australia as growth areas for his brokerage.

“There’s a lot of pain on the street right now and it’s a good time to look at opportunities in these places,” he said, without being more specific.

CLSA, which provides equity research, trading, asset management, and advising on stock sales and mergers in 13 countries, is boosting jobs in some areas, Slone said. The link to Citic Securities has opened up opportunities for the Hong Kong-based company in China, he said.

“They are very growth-oriented,” Slone said in the interview. “They want to see CLSA expand.”

Citic Securities, China’s biggest brokerage by market value, on July 20 said it completed the purchase of a 19.9 percent stake in the brokerage and planned to purchase the remaining shares by mid-2013 for a total of $1.25 billion.

Fixed Income

“We’re looking at what we can do in fixed income together, and we’re looking at how we can meet the challenges in the very difficult market right now,” Slone told reporters in Hong Kong today at its annual investors’ forum. “They have a very good issuance business. They have a very good trading business. We have a very good research business. It makes sense to look at how we can cooperate.”

The brokerage is known for its annual forums where guests have included former U.S. President Bill Clinton and filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. Former heavy-weight boxing champion Mike Tyson will speak at this year’s five-day forum, which will host 1,500 institutional investors and 550 senior executives in Hong Kong beginning today.

Among CLSA’s analysts are Christopher Wood, chief equity strategist and author of the Greed & Fear report, and Mike Mayo, who covers U.S. lenders and wrote “Exile on Wall Street: One Analyst’s Fight to Save the Big Banks From Themselves.”

Slone didn’t provide additional details about the acquisition targets.

“We could do something somewhere with some other people.”

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