Cellphones at Morgan Stanley Canada lit up last week in the wake of a $200-million share sale from mining company Iamgold Corp.
While the bought deal was straightforward, heads turned on Bay Street because Morgan Stanley had been notably quiet in the gold sector after seeing its head Canadian mining banker lured away last year to a top job at a client, global agriculture company JBS.
Yet here was the firm leading a financing alongside TD Securities and National Bank Financial. Bankers at rivals texted colleagues at Morgan Stanley to ask, "What's up?"
Richard Tory is what's up. The veteran dealmaker arrived at Morgan Stanley's Toronto office in July as head of investment banking in Canada, while retaining his role as the New York-based firm's global head of metals and mining. The stock sale for Iamgold is expected to mark the first of many mining transactions for Morgan Stanley, a firm with a bullish view on Canada's prospects.
Dougal Macdonald, president of Morgan Stanley Canada, spent the better part of six months recruiting Mr. Tory back to Canada from the firm's office in London, as part of a broader strategy to step up coverage of domestic clients and to advise foreign companies on domestic deals.
In an interview, Mr. Macdonald said: "In Canada, our view is all sectors are growth sectors, and that is not something you can say about every part of the world."
Mr. Tory returned to Canada after 21 years away. His family is well-known in Toronto circles, as his father and uncle co-founded the law firm that still sports their names, and one cousin – John – is mayor of the city, while another – Jennifer – runs personal and commercial banking at Royal Bank.
Mr. Tory began his career as a lawyer with the firm his father co-founded, occasionally working on deals across the table from Mr. Macdonald, who also started out in corporate law. In the 1990s, Mr. Tory and his Canadian-born wife opted to move to England. He took an assignment with a British law firm. In 1999, with global investment banks expanding operations in London, Mr. Tory jumped into finance, first with Dresdner Kleinwort, then with global firms Citibank and Credit Suisse, based at various times in London and Hong Kong. In 2011, he joined Morgan Stanley.
Mr. Tory said his decision to focus on mining companies was more driven by desperation than passion. In the wake of the tech wreck, global banks dramatically scaled back their British operations, and Mr. Tory jumped on an opportunity to start advising commodity companies in 2003 simply to keep a job.
The move coincided with a historic bull run in metals and mining stocks. Mr. Tory's clients included newly public Russian miners and what was then a small, private Swiss trading company named Glencore – now publicly traded and one of the world's largest commodity companies.
The decision to return to Toronto was driven in part by family considerations, but also out of a realization that an adviser with hard-earned relationships and experience in Europe and Asia can offer a fresh perspective to corporate clients in North America. Mr. Tory said: "Canadian CEOs value a global perspective on their business, and that perspective is what differentiates Morgan Stanley."
With gold stocks on a roll on the back of rising bullion prices and base-metal companies continuing to retrench, Mr. Tory expects to be busy. Based on his experience in Hong Kong, the Morgan Stanley executive predicts China's sovereign wealth funds and commodity companies will continue to invest outside Asia, and, he said, "there is much more we can do in mining for Canadian and global clients."
From Mr. Macdonald's point of view, recruiting a new Canadian partner from inside Morgan Stanley was a far better growth strategy than trying to poach a proven mining banker from a rival.
At Morgan Stanley, and most investment banks, it is difficult to successfully draft a senior executive from another firm. There are cultural differences between these companies that are all but invisible from the outside, and dropping a new dealmaker into a top role often ends with the investment banking equivalent of tissue rejection. The preferred route is to promote from within.
With Mr. Tory's arrival, Morgan Stanley has approximately 25 finance professionals in Canada, led by four senior dealmakers in Toronto and Calgary. Mr. Macdonald said that in the near term, growth initiatives include ramping up Canadian coverage of sectors such as consumer products and communications.
Morgan Stanley's constituent commitment to its presence in Canada comes at a time when a number of global banks are scaling back international operations – the CEOs refer to this as "de-risking" the bank. While there will always be a fierce competition for Canadian deals between domestic and foreign investment banks, Morgan Stanley's strategy is to win business by being part of the Canadian community and delivering personal service, backed by a global franchise. If they've got it right, more deals should follow on the Iamgold financing and the cellphones should keep lighting up.