* Asset manager Sycomore takes minority stake
* Firm entering one of Europe’s most competitive markets
By Christian Plumb
PARIS, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Former bankers from Credit Suisse , Societe Generale and Hawkpoint said they will launch a Paris-based boutique investment bank, the latest entrant to one of Europe’s most competitive markets.
Sycomore Corporate Finance will open with about 10 employees and receive backing from independent asset manager and minority stakeholder Sycomore Asset Management, said Olivier Barret, Credit Suisse’s former co-head of investment banking for France, Belgium and Luxembourg.
“We’re in a new environment which will permanently transform the investment banking profession and in which there is a much greater potential for independent players,” Barret said.
Sycomore will have some international partners but will focus on France, a highly competitive market due to the presence of BNP Paribas and Societe Generale and independent advisory firms Rothschild and Lazard, as Barret acknowledged.
Joining him as founding partners in the firm will be Pierre-Arnaud de Lacharriere, a founding partner in Hawkpoint, and Francois Vigne, a former managing director at SocGen.
Sycomore already has some mandates and hopes to build on the founding partners’ existing stable of clients, Barret said.
He said the firm would seek clients among family-owned firms, investment funds and listed and unlisted companies.
Lacharriere was best known for advising on leveraged buyout deals while Vigne was formerly SocGen’s head banker for construction and construction materials companies.
So far this year, Rothschild is ranked top bank in terms of deals with any French involvement, with BNP Paribas second and Lazard third, according to Thomson Reuters data.
In another sign of boutiques’ strength in France, independent advisory firm Ondra Partners grabbed eighth spot in the rankings, thanks to its involvement as an advisor on GDF Suez’s 12.9 billion euro ($16.73 billion) buyout of minorities in the UK’s International Power. ($1=0.7712 euros) (Editing by Mike Nesbit)