Magazine article American Banker

Piper Jaffray on Europe: Niche Play Is the Thing

Magazine article American Banker

Piper Jaffray on Europe: Niche Play Is the Thing

Article excerpt

U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray's campaign to mine the European mergers and acquisitions market is targeting small-cap companies -- especially those in the manufacturing, health-care, technology, and consumer sectors -- and focusing on deals of less than $ 1 billion.

David Wilson and other executives at the investment banking unit of Minneapolis' U.S. Bancorp say their competitors are overlooking these sectors. Mr. Wilson, hired in August from ING Barings to lead the effort, which is using London as its base, said, "We now feel pretty confident that we can build a business here organically."

Mr. Wilson brought two ING colleagues with him, and says he will make more hires gradually.

A 12-year corporate finance veteran, Mr. Wilson co-headed the UK investment banking unit at ING Barings and created the small-company investment banking team at Bankers Trust Alex. Brown, which is now owned by Deutsche Bank AG.

Though U.S. Bancorp plans to take things slow in Europe, Mr. Wilson said he thinks the Continent is a good M&A market that, importantly, is becoming more connected to business in the United States. Foreign acquisitions of U.S. companies accounted for 14.1% of worldwide mergers and acquisitions last year, and 17% were U.S. companies buying foreign ones, he noted.

Piper Jaffray is no stranger to Europe. The unit, which U.S. Bancorp bought in 1998, has had an equity sales team in London for 15 years that sells mainly U.S. equities to European clients.

"The long-term aim is to be a full-service investment bank," Mr. Wilson said.

And Piper Jaffray is not the first U. …

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