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For a generation, Corporate Canada was overbanked.

Between homegrown investment dealers, the Wall Street firms and global players based in London, Zurich, Frankfurt, Hong Kong and Tokyo, a domestic CEO had more banks to choose from than doughnuts at the nearest Tim Hortons.

The shotgun marriages playing out over the past week – Credit Suisse CS-N forced into the arm of UBS UBS-N by the Swiss government, U.S. regulators overseeing the sale of Silicon Valley Bank to First Citizens – mark the end of an era of plenty in corporate banking. Just when expansion-focused domestic companies need them most, many of the world’s largest investment banks are pulling back on Canadian coverage.

The reversal in fortunes for European banks in Canada is stunning. In the 1980s and 1990s, Credit Suisse, UBS, HSBC HSBC-N, Deutsche Bank DB-N and Barclays BCS-N all paid up to build transatlantic businesses, either buying boutique Canadian dealers or guaranteeing compensation to recruit talent for trading desks and investment banking teams.

By this time next year, the sole surviving major European bank in domestic markets is likely to be Barclays, which can trace its local roots back more than 100 years, to a time when former prime minister Robert Borden ran the Canadian operation.

UBS and Deutsche Bank scaled back in recent years, shifting to the suitcase banking coverage model, with financiers flying in to cover domestic clients. HSBC is in the midst of selling its Canadian operations to Royal Bank of Canada RY-T.

In recent years, a series of self-inflicted wounds hobbled Credit Suisse’s global operations. As a result, a number of senior Canadian bankers opted to join rivals. Last fall, Ram Amarnath, the former head of investment banking, jumped to a vice-chair role at RBC Capital Markets. In 2021, energy banker Tom Greenberg went to Morgan Stanley, also as a vice-chair, and Matthew Hind joined Bank of Nova Scotia BNS-T as head of the mining team. In 2019, Daniel McCarthy left for a vice-chair spot at National Bank Financial.

Credit Suisse now has approximately 50 employees in Canada, focused on serving clients with international aspirations in tech, consumer products, resources, along with financial institutions such as Brookfield Corp., pension plans, banks and insurers.

With all due respect to domestic rivals such as RBC, which built significant operations in London and New York over the past two decades, Canadian CEOs welcome advice from global investment banks when they are working on cross-border deals. Over the past three decades, Credit Suisse has consistently advised on takeovers and financings for domestic companies expanding in Europe and the United States.

The official line at Credit Suisse is it’s business as usual in Canada, ahead of the sale to UBS. The bank did an equity market transaction for Montreal-based Nuvei Corp. last week. However, once the UBS takeover closes later this year, the new owner is expected to scale back Credit Suisse’s investment banking business globally and focus on wealth management. That strategy would mean winding down the Canadian unit.

For domestic CEOs, the timing stinks. After years of easy access to cheap capital, credit markets have tightened in recent months. In the tech sector, cash-burning businesses are scrambling to find new lenders in the wake of Silicon Valley Bank’s abrupt demise. SVB’s collapse has thrown the whole venture capital ecosystem into turmoil, and North Carolina-based First Citizens can’t fill that void.

Canadian companies with global ambitions are suddenly finding it more difficult, and more expensive, to borrow. Yet many CEOs see opportunities to make foreign acquisitions, as valuations on potential targets drop, owing to inflation and recession fears.

For the foreseeable future, Corporate Canada is going to have a real need for global investment banks, as both sources of capital and scouts on possible deals. And for the first time in a generation, the country is underbanked.