Bank of Montreal is reshaping its investment and corporate banking division in a major way by winding down its energy sector coverage outside of its home market.
Going forward the bank’s investment dealer, BMO Nesbitt Burns, will devote its energy sector resources to the Canadian market, employees were told Monday. The move is expected to affect the bank’s long-standing Houston office, and the news comes amid a prolonged slump in the energy sector – particularly for U.S. shale producers.
“We’re allocating our resources to businesses where we are well-positioned from a market share position and to deliver strong returns now and in the future,” BMO said in a statement to the Globe. “As part of these efforts, we’ve made the financial decision for an orderly wind-down of our non-Canadian investment and corporate banking energy business.”
The bank’s energy business, which includes investment banking and corporate lending, will now focus on the Canadian market where BMO said its “competitive positioning is strongest, our financial opportunity is most attractive, and we have a deep and long-standing commitment to supporting clients.”
BMO has a rich history in Houston, having opened its doors there in the early 1960s. Former chief executive Bill Downe, who retired in 2017, spent his early days as a credit analyst and corporate lender in the energy-focused Houston office.
The bank’s American energy business has been known for its acquisitions and divestitures arm, which focused on trading land assets. BMO has also advised on large U.S. deals, including serving as Spectra Energy Corp.’s financial adviser on its $37-billion sale to Enbridge in 2016.
But in recent years the outlook for U.S. energy has shifted dramatically, as the boom supported by shale oil and gas flamed out. Many producers created a bubble by overpaying for shale assets, often with a lot of debt, only to find out many of the wells are not as prolific as once hoped.
At the same time, the outlook for energy prices has taken a hit. Not only has the pandemic altered energy demand, but there has also been an oversupply of oil, which is expected to suppress prices for the near future.
Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.