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Evercore Plots Southeast Asia Expansion in Challenge to Goldman

Evercore Partners Inc. Chief Executive Officer Ralph Schlosstein
Evercore Partners Inc. Chief Executive Officer Ralph Schlosstein said, “It’s a little bit more challenging to get the Asian market to embrace the advice-only model but I’m very optimistic and I think the momentum is very much in our direction.” Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Evercore Partners Inc., the mergers advisory firm entering Southeast Asia, plans to add as many as 10 investment bankers in Singapore by October next year as companies from Malaysia to Thailand pursue more takeovers.

Evercore, which last month hired Keith Magnus from UBS AG to set up its Singapore office, will also offer advice on restructuring and share and debt sales in Southeast Asia, Chief Executive Officer Ralph Schlosstein said in an interview in Singapore yesterday.

The region is luring investment banks as companies make more cross-border acquisitions and tap capital markets to finance expansion. Evercore was in 20th position in mergers advisory in Southeast Asia last year according to data compiled by Bloomberg, lower than its global ranking, as companies in the region opt for investment banks that also provide financing.

“It’s a little bit more challenging to get the Asian market to embrace the advice-only model but I’m very optimistic and I think the momentum is very much in our direction,” said Schlosstein. “The most likely place for us to find talent is the large firms.”

Goldmans Sachs Group Inc. was the top-ranked adviser on M&A involving Southeast Asian companies last year, followed by HSBC Holdings Plc, data compiled by Bloomberg shows. Malaysian banks CIMB Group Holdings Bhd. and Malayan Banking Bhd. were the top two underwriters of share sales in the region in 2012, the data shows.

Evercore is advising on some of the biggest announced takeovers worldwide this year, including counseling Dell Inc. on its proposed buyout by founder Michael Dell and Silver Lake Management LLC. The firm, founded by former U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman, has 15 bankers in Hong Kong.

Generating Capital

Magnus, who ran UBS’s investment-banking business in Singapore and Malaysia, will be chief executive officer of Evercore’s Singapore operations.

Announced mergers involving Southeast Asian companies reached $68 billion so far this year, on pace for the most annually since 2008, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Equity offerings in the region have raised $23.5 billion in 2013, surpassing Hong Kong.

Evercore was part of a group of banks that advised AIA Group Ltd. on its $1.7 billion acquisition of ING Groep NV’s insurance business in Malaysia in October last year.

The firm said last month that second-quarter profit more than doubled as investment-banking revenue climbed. Asian clients made up almost 10 percent of its advisory business revenue last year, said Schlosstein. With countries like Singapore generating a “huge amount of capital,” he said companies and sovereign wealth funds will be seeking more advice on how to grow.

“There’re not nearly enough opportunities to deploy that capital that has been generated in this market alone, so there’s going to be a lot of outward-bound M&A activity,” he said. “There’s also going to be a lot of consolidation and diversification across the different markets in Asia.”

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