JPMorgan’s Blessing Bolsters German Team as Deal Momentum Builds

Dorothee Blessing, who joined JPMorgan Chase & Co. last year after two decades at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., is already putting a stamp on her new home.

Blessing today named long-time utilities banker Callum Mitchell-Thomson as head of investment banking for Germany, according to an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg News. The appointment by Blessing, who is vice chairman of investment banking in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, may be a sign of more to come.

“We’re very focused on keeping up momentum,” Blessing said in an interview in the JPMorgan tower in Canary Wharf in London, citing the bank’s no. 1 ranking in EMEA investment banking revenues last year, based on Dealogic data. “There’s no time to be complacent or lie back.”

Mitchell-Thomson has been at the bank for over 18 years, much of it spent advising utility companies in Europe. He will report to Blessing, who alongside her EMEA role also oversees investment banking in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. JPMorgan is working with Germany’s largest utility, EON SE, on the planned spinoff of its fossil-fuel power plants.

Active Year

The hiring marks a continued shake-up at the top of JPMorgan’s investment bank in Europe as it seeks to boost market share in the region. In addition to Blessing, the New York-based firm rehired Dag Skattum in November and former Italian Finance Minister Vittorio Grilli in May.

JPMorgan, the world’s biggest investment bank, is ranked first in global M&A this year after placing fourth in 2014 during the the best year for takeovers since 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Blessing predicts an active year for mergers and acquisitions as well as equity capital markets, citing strong earnings, low interest rates and access to financing.

“We expect 2015 to continue to be very active, similar to last year,” she said, citing cross-border deals and transactions in health care and telecoms, media and technology. “We see a continuous flow of ECM activity this year and the pipeline for IPOs is robust.”

Still, rising regulatory costs and volatile markets are impacting banks. JPMorgan last week lowered its target for returns at the investment bank because of higher capital requirements. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon is seeking to convince investors that JPMorgan can absorb regulators’ demands for thicker capital cushions and better oversight while improving companywide returns.

Pockets of Volatility

JPMorgan shares have gained about 8 percent in the last 12 months, valuing the company at $228 billion. That compares to a 12 percent gain at Standard and Poor’s 500 Financials Index in the same period.

Concern that Greece may leave the shared euro currency, upcoming British elections and the plunging oil price have also spooked markets.

“There’ll always be pockets of volatility”, Blessing said. “So whether on M&A transactions or IPOs, companies have to take this into account, stick to their fundamental strategies and be thoughtful in accessing windows of opportunity.”

At Goldman Sachs, Blessing rose from analyst to co-head of investment banking for Germany and Austria in a career spanning two decades. She left in February 2013, leading to speculation in the Frankfurt banking community on where she’d go next.

Blessing, who shuttles between Frankfurt and London, is a rarity in German banking, which has a dearth of female representation in top positions. A mother of three, Blessing comes from a banking dynasty, following her father Paul Wieandt, the former chairman of savings bank Frankfurter Sparkasse.

Her brother Axel Wieandt has worked at Deutsche Bank AG, Credit Suisse Group AG and was CEO of Hypo Real Estate Holding AG from 2008 to 2010. She is married to Commerzbank AG Chief Executive Officer Martin Blessing.

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