• Evercore generates a quarter of its advisory fees from Europe
  • Rival Lazard says Brexit threat spurs caution about region

Evercore Partners Inc.’s Roger Altman, a former deputy U.S. Treasury secretary, said that Wall Street leaders expect voters to reject a proposed U.K. departure from the European Union.

“I don’t think it’s having a big negative effect” on mergers and acquisitions, Altman said Wednesday during his company’s first-quarter earnings call, when asked about the potential threat of a so-called Brexit. “There is a widespread assumption in the business and financial communities -- we’ll see if it’s correct -- that the vote will ultimately be ‘no’ on exit.”

Evercore generated a fourth of its advisory fees in Europe last year. Bankers have been debating whether dealmaking on the continent will chill because of the vote, and some companies have been hoarding cash ahead of the June 23 referendum. The U.K. just had its worst quarter for deals since 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

U.S. President Barack Obama has warned that a Brexit would threaten transatlantic commerce. Lazard Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Ken Jacobs, which also advises clients on mergers, said Thursday that he feels “cautious” about Europe.

“It’s going to be a little hard for people to make big bets,” Jacobs said Thursday during a conference call discussing his firm’s results. “In Europe, you’re going to have a little bit of an overhang.”

Evercore shares slipped 1.4 percent to $51.37 at 10:11 a.m. in New York, extending its decline for the year to 5 percent. Lazard has dropped 14 percent since Dec. 31.

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