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Investec taps UK’s Northern Powerhouse

Chris Tighe
French Republican Guards, working on Tour de France security, pose for a family picture in front of the city hall of Leeds, northern England, on July 4, 2014, before the start of the 101st edition of the Tour de France cycling race.
Lionel Bonaventure | AFP | Getty Images

Investec, the international specialist bank and asset manager, is to launch an investment banking operation in the north of England, its first in the UK outside London.

While not directly triggered by George Osborne's Northern Powerhouse vision, its strategy is in tune with the chancellor's belief that the region has under exploited economic potential.

"We see it as a very big growth market for us," said Andrew Pinder, head of investment banking at Investec in the UK. "There's untapped potential for investment banking — it's ripe for opportunity."

Other financial and professional services firms have invested in the north's growth potential, but Investec is highly unusual in creating a full-service investment banking operation there.

"A lot of what we do comes down to relationships," said Dan Sheahan, Investec's first appointee at its northern operation, who starts work with the group on Monday. "There are plenty of exciting clients in the north and they like having someone who has a cultural fit."

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The atmosphere in the region was very positive, he added. "The cities of the north all have their head held high."

Mr Sheahan, who has spent his working life in the north of England, joins Investec from PwC, the professional services group, where he was a senior director of the Leeds office. Transactions on which he advised include the sale of Poundworld to TPG Capital and BlueGem's acquisition of Mamas and Papas.

Before joining PwC, he was a part of a team that in Manchester set up Close Brothers' first office outside London, focused on corporate finance and later bought by Japan's DC Advisory.

The Investec operation, based in Leeds, will build on the group's existing wealth management offices in Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool. Clients of the new operation include Servelec, Tracsis, McBride, Henry Boot, Exova and Bodycote.

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Mr Pinder said Investec, which has a dual headquarters in London and Johannesburg, could offer northern businesses access to overseas buyers.

Among those to have benefited recently from a north of England presence is Manchester-based Zeus Capital. It has advised public offerings this year including Cheshire-based Pets at Home, of Manchester and Bolton-based AO World.

Cenkos, the small-cap broker, has opened an office within the past year in Liverpool, which is home to the biggest wealth management sector in England outside London.

Other recently established enthusiasts for the north include Northedge, a private equity firm based purely in the north of England, and Atom, a challenger bank promising close links with northern businesses, headquartered in the city of Durham.