(Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s head of dealmaking for financial institutions in Europe, the Middle East and Africa has relocated to Paris and is planning to double headcount for his team in the city as M&A amid banks and insurers accelerates.

The move by Dirk Lievens is the latest relocation of a senior investment banker to Paris from London years after the UK’s exit from the European Union. US banks have massively increased headcount in the French capital, with employees including traders, salespeople, financing bankers and mergers-and-acquisitions professionals, including sector heads, relocating.

Goldman’s financial-institutions group includes roughly 100 staffers in Europe that advise banks, insurers, fintechs and other financial firms, with 75 focused on M&A and corporate finance. FIG teams are often the biggest sector groups within banks and also have links with other business lines, such as treasury and asset management.

“My move here signals it is important. We will double the team in size and build from there,” Lievens said in an interview in Paris. He’s been with Goldman for more than two decades and his move follows other relocations of senior M&A bankers to the city. Goldman plans to initially increase its FIG headcount in Paris to 16, he said. “There is a Brexit component to it but it is not the main driver. We want to be flexible in terms of our location.” 

In Europe, Goldman has advisers based in Frankfurt, Paris, Milan and Munich.

“Our FIG business will be driven out of Paris,” Lievens said. “If you look at the continent, FIG clients are spread out. If you look at France, the whole ecosystem is in Paris, whereas in Germany, for instance, it’s spread out across cities.”

The relocations come at a time when financial dealmaking is heating up in Europe. Both banks and insurers are looking at ways to redeploy the excess cash generated during times of high rates, other than stock buybacks. At the same time, some European institutions, such as Societe Generale SA, are still restructuring their businesses by selling unwanted units, allowing peers to consolidate their market share.

More Deals

“There is more deal activity in continental Europe,” Lievens said. “I do think we will see more in-market bank consolidation and select cross-border transactions but probably not yet the mega cross-border bank deals,” he said, while in the insurance industry, there probably will be more cross-border deals.

For banks, headwinds such as low valuation levels and fair-value adjustments are “dissipating,” Lievens said.

“Bank CEOs want to redeploy into their businesses, and market reaction to recent deals have been positive,” he said. 

Paris is one of the most competitive investment-banking markets in the world. French banks including Societe Generale and BNP Paribas SA have large teams that advise on M&A, while other European banks as well as those from the US and boutique firms such as Ardea Partners LP have local teams that operate in the market. 

Paris itself is a lucrative market for FIG advisory, representing roughly 20% of the market capitalization of European financial Institutions, according to Lievens. On top of that, French asset managers such as Amundi SA are highly acquisitive, and the city is home to a number of financial sponsors that invest in financial services or do deals themselves as the alternative-asset industry is consolidating. 

For instance, the investment group Wendel SE bought the mid-market private equity fund IK Partners last year. Tikehau Capital has said it would consider smaller, bolt-on acquisitions and Eurazeo SE has weighed building stakes in financial-services firms. 

Within their financial institutions groups, Goldman and some of its rivals have investment bankers that advise alternative asset managers on strategic matters as well as potential transactions for their funds to pursue.  

Read More: Amundi to Merge Unit With Victory Capital in US Growth Push

(Updates with deal examples in penultimate paragraph, further context in last paragraph.)

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.