Technology, media and telecommunications is the sector to be in this year for investment banks, and Royal Bank of Canada is showing up there in a global way.
In the so-called TMT business, the big U.S. bulge-bracket houses dominate. According to figures from Thomson Reuters, JPMorgan alone has 10 per cent of the market as measured by fees. The other names in the list include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs & Co., Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank.
However, RBC shows up in the ninth spot with 2.3 per cent of the global fees – representing about $186-million (U.S.) in revenue for the capital markets arm of the bank in the past twelve months.
The ranking is a sign that the bank's strategy in the U.S. is really beginning to work. RBC took a lot of heat early on in its attempts to create a big investment bank outside Canada. The purchase of Minneapolis-based brokerage Dain Rauscher to use as a building block was troubled. Dain brought a group of midwestern bankers focused on things like muni bonds – hardly the sort of operation that struck fear into the hearts of JPMorgan and other large firms.
It took a thorough rebuild – and a financial crisis that enabled RBC to hire a lot of displaced bankers – before the strategy really started to click.
RBC devoted a lot of its efforts to balance sheet–focused areas such as leveraged finance, which plays nicely into the media business as a starting point for deals with private equity and debt components. Fruitful relationships with firms like Silver Lake Partners also don't hurt.
The main driver of the rankings – the only area where RBC shows up in the top 10 for an individual product – was debt. RBC moved up from 14th to 10th in debt raising for TMT companies, getting in on big bond issues by sellers such as Verizon Communications Inc. and Sprint Corp.