Altium sets out intentions with opening of city office

Simon Lord, Keith Williams and Phil Adams
Simon Lord, Keith Williams and Phil Adams
Have your say

INTERNATIONAL investment bank Altium is to open an office in Leeds, the Yorkshire Post can reveal.

It will be the ninth office opening and the third in the UK after London and Manchester for the employee-owned bank.

Keith Williams, head of the new office, said: “We see huge opportunity for Yorkshire.”

He added: “We see Yorkshire as quite an under-served market from a corporate finance perspective.”

Liberum Capital and Investec’s Evolution Securities exited the city’s corporate finance market earlier this year.

But Mr Williams said: “We are certainly not a house that will set up with a view to withdrawing.

“It’s part of our strategic ambition. With London, Manchester and Leeds, we have pretty much full UK coverage.”

Located in City Square, Altium will provide a full-service offering in corporate finance advisory in both public and private markets.

Phil Adams, chief executive, said: “Altium has built its business by having strong local operations with an international reach, which is exactly the offering we will be bringing to Leeds.

“We believe that international presence and sector focus are increasingly important to our clients and we look forward to expanding our client base in the region.

“We believe that clients increasingly want to deal with advisers who are truly independent and not conflicted by multiple service lines.”

Private equity firm Apax Partners set up Altium in the early 1980s as a corporate advisory business.

It has since advised on Yorkshire deals including the £360m acquisition of Leeds-based Spice by Cinven, the sale of E Wood, based in Northallerton, to 3M and Wakefield-based Redhall Group’s acquisition of Chieftan.

Mr Williams said Altium has “a very strong deal sheet” and is already acting for four clients in Yorkshire’s financial services sector.

He added: “We are not expecting any of the struggles which some of our counterparts might be feeling when they say it’s a quiet market.

“Private equity has a lot of cash still. It tends to be aligned by sectors. It tends to be aligned with people who know those sectors well.

“Coming in, our glass is half full. We have a strong appetite. None of our whip list is speculative. We should have done it sooner.”

He hopes the office will soon rival Manchester in size and activity. It has 16 staff and completes up to a dozen deals a year.

Mr Williams said: “We are recruiting now and looking for good quality talent to come and build up the team.”

Since 2011, Altium has completed 48 deals worth a total of £4bn across its network of offices in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain, Italy and Dubai.

“We bring a national and international network of entrepreneurs, acquisitive companies and private equity relationships, as well as expertise across our core sectors of energy waste and renewables, e-commerce, healthcare, financial services, technology, industrials, business services and leisure,” said Mr Williams.

He added that the bank advised on between 10 to 15 per cent of all public to private activity in the UK in the last two years.

Other new entrants to the Leeds corporate finance market place include Dow Schofield Watts, headed by former Deloitte partner Roger Esler, and Merchant Securities, led by Joanne Lake, who used to head Evolution Securities’ office.

Taking a view of the long-term

EMPLOYEE ownership provides “a real fillip” to Altium, according to Keith Williams, head of the new Leeds office.

He said it promotes cohesion and retention and allows the investment bank to take a long-term strategic view.

“It’s not all about P and L income in a year,” he added. “If that means doing nothing this year or next... we have no pressure on us.

“We don’t have pressure to do things that are not in the interests of our clients.”

National deals include Lyceum Capital’s acquisition of premium sandwich outlet EAT, the sale of online retailer to The Hut Group and jewellery giant Swarovski’s acquisition of Chamilia.