Now is not a good time to be an investment banker. M&A activity has fallen off, the IPO market has slowed, banks are announcing layoffs and bonuses should be down significantly this year.
For bankers in London facing layoffs, there might be a savior. China. Deal Journal colleague Matt Turner reports:
It appears Chinese banks believe that their moment to descend on London is fast approaching. Over the past two years, several have quietly built up their portfolios of prime office real estate, often close to the Bank of England building in the City of London.
To date, these offices have only housed a small number of executives who have been relocated from China to London to gather information on the market and their competitors.
However, there are now signs that this “information gathering” stage may be coming to an end. The phoney war is over. This month, one senior investment banker told Financial News that a Chinese firm had enlisted headhunters to look into the practicality of hiring several hundred investment bankers. The bank’s domestic peers are understood to be close to following suit.
Earlier this month, Wang Qishan, the vice-premier of the People’s Republic of China who is credited with helping Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs enter the Chinese market, arrived in the UK to hold talks with chancellor George Osborne. The two agreed to work together to develop London as an offshore trading hub for the renminbi. Industry sources pointed out the Chinese authorities were unlikely to allow western banks a clear run at this nascent market.
It is clear the Chinese banks have the firepower to make a significant impact on the London market and they have already amassed the office space to house many more staff.
看来，中国的银行相信，他们大规模进军伦敦的时刻即将来临。在过去两年中，好几家中资银行已经悄无声息地建立起自己优质写字楼地产组合，其位置大都靠近位于伦敦市的英国央行（Bank of England）大楼。
本月早些时候，中国国务院副总理王岐山抵达英国，同财政大臣奥斯本（George Osborne）举行会谈。双方同意共同努力将伦敦发展成人民币离岸交易中心。业内人士指出，中国有关部门不太可能允许西方银行在这一新兴市场拥有明显优势。王岐山曾因帮助摩根士丹利（Morgan Stanley）和高盛（Goldman Sachs）进入中国市场而受到赞誉。