Infor Financial Group Inc. has recruited a pair of renowned mining banking veterans as the boutique investment bank makes an aggressive push into the competitive resources market.
Jens Mayer, former global co-head of investment banking with Canaccord Genuity Group Inc., and Mark Wellings, former co-head of mining with GMP Capital Inc., have joined Infor as principals and equity holders. Also joining the independent is mining banker Neville Dastoor, who left Canaccord earlier this week, after a 12-year run.
Mr. Mayer and Mr. Wellings go way back. They first worked together in the Northern Ontario bush almost 30 years ago as geologists in the field. Subsequently, they worked alongside each other at Gordon Capital, a famed 1980s and 1990s-era boutique. Mr. Wellings later joined GMP in 1996 as its very first banking associate. At one point, he ran GMP's European operations. Mr. Wellings left the firm in 2014. Mr. Mayer, who started at Canaccord in 2000, was long-time head of mining. He departed in January of this year.
Privately held Infor was started last year by former GMP Capital Inc. technology media and telecom (TMT) investment banker Neil Selfe, and specializes in providing mergers and acquisitions (M&A) advice. Infor had a number of big wins early on, including advising Element Financial on its $8.6-billion acquisition of General Electric's fleet-management business. Earlier this year, it advised Element again on its deal to split into two separate publicly traded entities, a transaction worth about $5.8-billion.
"The platform here that Neil has created is basically [similar to] the beginnings of both Canaccord and GMP," Mr. Wellings said in an interview. "You have equity. You have leverage on the equity. You have fun."
Infor has had a fairly narrow focus so far in TMT, financials and special situations. But with the drafting of Messrs. Mayer, Wellings and Dastoor, who collectively have more than 50 years of mining banking experience, Infor is confident it can make a serious dent in the resources sector.
"We've seen pretty much every [mining] deal and every entrepreneur," Mr. Mayer said. "It's that feeling or spidey sense you get of being in the business for 20 plus years."
While Infor has had early success, it faces intense competition from bank-owned dealers that can lend, and large independents such as Canaccord, GMP and Cormark Securities Inc., which have balance sheets to do stock underwriting deals. Where boutiques like Infor have an edge, though, is in their independence. Since Infor is not trying to land a corporate loan, or a get a piece of a bought deal, it can claim that its advice is conflict-free.
Infor is also facing increasing competition from fellow advice-only shops such as Origin Merchant Partners, Maxit Capital, Blair Franklin Capital Partners and a recently invigorated Verus Partners.
Earlier this week, Verus was acquired by U.S. independent Lazard Ltd., which is recognized globally as a fierce competitor. Mr. Selfe, however, is not overly concerned about the threat from Verus, which like Infor is targeting big-cap Canadian companies.
"The Americans do not know the local market," Mr. Selfe said. "I'm not going to say that they're [Verus] not going to be successful, but they do not have the relationships that have been built up over the last 30 years."