High-level investment bankers are guardedly positive about this year's hiring and compensation outlook, but are keeping a wary eye on how the stock market behaves.
Barring a severe stock-market selloff, the value of merger deals could rise as much as 20 percent in 2010, Robert Kindler, global head of mergers advice at Morgan Stanley, told Bloomberg News. Issuance of stocks, bonds, syndicated loans and securitized products could climb as much as 30 percent, according to James Amine, co-head of investment banking at Credit Suisse. But if stock prices tank, volumes could decline from last year.
Thus far, the momentum that suffused both capital markets and M&A activity in the second half of 2009 is continuing into 2010, says David Solomon, global co-head of investment banking at Goldman Sachs.
Which firms will be hiring the most? Data from Bloomberg's league tables gives a snapshot of who was gaining and losing ground coming into 2010:
Morgan Stanley, whose investment-banking fees dropped by more than half in 2008 as questions arose about its viability, made a powerful comeback last year, taking in $4.33 billion in total fees, a 43 percent increase, although still nowhere near the $6.36 billion it generated in 2007. No. 6 Credit Suisse climbed two rungs as its fees surged 29 percent. No. 5 Citigroup, the recipient of the largest government bailout, fell in the rankings for a second year; its $3.86 billion in fees was just a 2 percent increase from what it reaped in 2008.
JPMorgan Chase led all investment banks last year in overall fees and in combined equity and debt underwriting. Goldman Sachs placed second in total fees and took the top slot in M&A. Total investment-banking fees for all firms rose 13 percent in 2009 to $59.8 billion, according to Bloomberg.
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