New Zealand broking and advisory group Jarden has been eyeing the Australian market for years, but it was only last month that it made its move.

The New Zealand broking and advisory group announced it had hired Vanderzeil, who oversaw the Swiss bank’s powerful global capital markets franchise; ex-Goldman Sachs banker Sarah Renniewho just last week raised equity for National Australia Bank; and high-profile UBS alumni Dane Fitzgibbon and John Spencer.
And while it might have been in the planning for years, chief executive James Lee admits the long-simmering strategy only really swung into action in March, and ran right down to the wire with Rennie’s resignation late Thursday.
Plucking four of the country’s most senior equity capital markets bankers from right under their employers’ noses is right up there with American upstart Jefferies’ high-profile raid on CLSA last year, when it recruited 30 staff in one day after months of planning.
At the time, Jefferies’ raid gained headlines because the Wall Street bank was the first new player to enter this market since Moelis and just after Deutsche Bank scaled back.
Jarden’s move is no less surprising, at a time when talk is raging about whether some foreign brokers will exit, or, more likely, scale back as profits and bonuses fall.
Jarden’s Lee says moving when it’s least expected is how the Kiwi firm operates. “Over the years, our mantra has been when others pull out we step forward,” he told AFR Weekend. More than half of the group’s corporate and institutional client base is Australian, and within its wealth business, more than 40 per cent of client assets are based in Australia and the rest of the world, Lee added.
The group isn’t interested in silos. Under the new deal, Jarden will own 100 per cent of the new business and the four Australian recruits will own shares in the unlisted equity of the Jarden group. It’s one balance sheet, and one partnership.
The ECM heavyweights are just the start. Jarden, which is owned by its staff, is waiting to pick off more of “the very best people”, says Lee.
Others note it’s an opportunistic time to be hiring, pointing out a falling US dollar will shrink local profits for offshore-owned banks, and the value of senior bankers’ deferred stock has fallen with share prices. There are expectations that there will be another shake-out of senior bankers with Magellan Financial Group chairman and co-founder Hamish Douglass said to be poised to start an investment banking unit.
And then, what about Credit Suisse? The two firms’ “strategic relationship” has run in various guises for more than 30 years, spanning shared research and, for a while, small companies.
Most recently it’s meant that Credit Suisse cuts Jarden in on Australian deals in New Zealand, and vice versa on New Zealand deals here.
In the past month, the pair worked together on Kathmandu’s recapitalisation and Auckland International Airport’s $NZ1 billion ($938 million) capital raising, both lucrative transactions for the brokers.
Credit Suisse’s new-ish local boss Richard Gibb is keeping it broad. We have enjoyed a 30-year strategic partnership with Jarden and we look forward to continuing to deliver great solutions to clients together, he said on Friday.