M&A: Energy specialists wanted

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With bonuses largely announced, and in several cases actually paid out, banks are readying for the annual recruitment drive. In M&A, energy bankers are set to feature near the top of their wish lists.

"Energy clients are flush with cash at the moment, and energy companies globally are doing deals," says Jean Facon, a consultant at search firm Christopher Beale Associates. "Banks are looking for M&A specialists with energy sector experience to support the pipeline."

In 2005, oil and gas M&A deals totaled US$14 billion, compared with US$5.3 billion in 2004, according to Dealogic, a data provider. Growth looks set to continue. Last month, for example, China National Offshore Oil Corporation disclosed a $2.27bn acquisition stake in a Nigerian oil field. And in Europe, shares of Centrica, the UK's biggest gas provider, soared last week following speculation that the company could receive an offer from the Russian gas giant, Gazprom.

Facon, who is based in the UK, says demand for energy sector specialists is a global phenomenon. Recent press reports confirm the trend. The website Power & Finance Risk, says Deutsche Bank is planning to significantly beef up its energy investment banking group in the months to come, raising the number of managing directors in its energy and utilities unit from 14 to 20 or 21 globally.

Similarly, Rothschild is reportedly planning to increase its Australian M&A team by 50% to 32, with a view to focusing its business on utilities, power and energy and industrial and consumer companies.