Citigroup (NYSE: C) is getting aggressive in the European region, announcing key hires aimed at helping restore inroads that have fractured since the financial crisis. Facing mounting challenges in the US market this may provy to be a savy strategy in the coming years.
Recently, the third largest U.S. bank by assets hired former UBS AG (NYSE: UBS) European mergers co-head Pat Guerin. Guerin’s core responsibility at Citigroup will be advising clients on asset sales, and will be based in the London office. According to an internal memorandum, Guerin will report to European M&A chief Wilhelm Schulz.
In February of this year, Citigroup has said it planned to hire as many as 20 senior corporate and investment bankers in Europe during the first half of 2011. Although an aggressive plan, it is necessary to restock the stable and rebuild the team weakened by departures. According to Bloomberg, Citigroup is the ninth-ranked adviser on European mergers this year, two spots ahead of Guerin’s former firm which came in at 11. The New York-based bank has about 1,000 investment and corporate bankers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, though key hires seem to signal expansion plans on the horizon.
Separately this month, Citigroup also hired Stuart Popham, a former senior partner at law firm Clifford Chance, as a vice chairman of Europe, Middle East and Africa banking. He will work with the bank’s largest U.K. clients, and “brings an array of top-tier relationships, forged during his 34 years at Clifford Chance,” Philip Robert-Tissot, head of U.K. broking and banking, said in the statement.
The hiring sparks an important signal for Citi shareholders, that the firm does have a clear plan and is aggressively pursuing that in the Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia markets. Although the firm floundered under former CEO Prince, and struggled to dig out from the financial crisis, the firm has recently announced plans to increase its dividend and continue the expansion they displayed in 2010. While banking in the U.S. becomes more difficult following the financial regulatory reform and overall stagnant market, growth in Europe and Asia will prove to be a vital component to any firm’s strategy. Hires like Popham and Guerin may help create new opportunities for the firm, and help restore investor confidence.