Bob Diamond's Atlas in Talks for Stake in Kepler

Updated on
  • Firm is said to seek 20% of brokerage held by BlackFin
  • Investment would follow 2017’s deal for Panmure Gordon

Bob Diamond

Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

Bob Diamond is planning his next financial services deal in Europe, with his investment firm in talks to take a stake in brokerage Kepler Cheuvreux, people familiar with the matter said.

Atlas Merchant Capital, co-founded by the former Barclays Plc chief executive officer, is in talks for the Kepler stake held by Paris-based BlackFin Capital Partners, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing confidential matters. The French private equity firm owns about 20 percent of the brokerage.

Diamond’s company has been striking deals across the financial industry in the U.S. and Europe, taking a controlling stake in brokerage Panmure Gordon & Co. last year to build a boutique investment bank in London’s financial center. Atlas is also an investor in New York brokerage South Street Securities Holdings Inc., which agreed to buy Lebenthal Holdings LLC’s asset-management business and a stake in broker-dealer Lebenthal & Co. in early 2017.

A spokesman for Atlas declined to comment as did an official at BlackFin. Kepler, also based in Paris, declined to comment by email.

MiFID Impact

Kepler, founded in 1997 as the stock-brokerage business of Swiss private bank Julius Baer Group Ltd., focuses on independent research, sales, trading and execution for equities, debt and derivative products. In Europe, new rules known as MiFID II have required buyers to pay for securities analysis, spurring strategy changes among Kepler’s rivals and potential consolidation for the industry.

French bank Credit Agricole SA owns more than 15 percent of Kepler, according to Kepler’s website. Kepler management and staff own almost a third of the company.

Diamond, 66, stepped down from Barclays in 2012. He also founded Atlas Mara Ltd., an investment firm that focuses on banking in Africa. Atlas Merchant’s recent deals include an agreement in December along with an investor group to buy annuity assets from Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. for about $2.05 billion.

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