Munich’s mountains and tech tempt big banks from Frankfurt

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MUNICH, Feb 19 (Reuters) – Munich is starting to steal some of German financial hub Frankfurt’s limelight as foreign banks flock to the southern city, which on a clear day has views of the Bavarian Alps.

The appeal lies in Munich’s high proportion of DAX (.GDAXI), companies and tech start-ups, large insurers and financial investors, while the nearby mountains add to its allure.

Firms such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have been drawn by big German companies such as Siemens (SIEGn.DE), Allianz (ALVG.DE), and BMW (BMWG.DE), being based around Munich, while their bankers also value the quality of life on offer.

“Many decision-makers work and live here, it’s a city where you can live well,” said Dietrich Becker, head of Europe and partner at Perella Weinberg (PWP.O), adding that Munich had the highest concentration of clients in Germany.

The U.S. investment banking boutique was a pioneer in choosing Munich for its German base, opening its office in 2020.

“In London and Paris there is a high concentration of companies and decision-makers, in Germany that is more spread out, people are constantly on the move,” Becker told Reuters.

Along with big established industrial and financial names, EQT (EQTAB.ST), and General Atlantic are among the largest technology investors present in Munich.

And there are also aspiring German software companies and many European subsidiaries of U.S. technology firms.

Next month, Goldman Sachs (GS.N), will be the first of the major investment banks to establish a presence in the Bavarian state capital when it opens a Munich office.

This will be Goldman’s second office in Germany after Frankfurt, where it has around 400 bankers, with its Wall Street rival Morgan Stanley (MS.N), set to follow suit in the summer.

“We will be in Munich with a team of around 30 bankers, some of whom will move from Frankfurt but also some from London,” Wolfgang Fink, head of Germany and Austria and chairman of continental Europe at Goldman Sachs, told Reuters.

“We want to be where our clients are,” said Fink, adding that Munich was becoming “more and more international”.

TECH TEAMS

In the German tech sector, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are among some of the most sought-after investment banking advisers, alongside fellow U.S. giant JP Morgan (JPM.N),

“In terms of market value, there are around one third of DAX companies sitting here and more than ten ‘unicorns’, i.e. start-ups with a valuation of more than one billion euros,” said Tammo Buennemeyer, a technology specialist who will help establish Morgan Stanley’s team in Munich.

Goldman Sachs, meanwhile, says it will move the team of Tobias Koester, which covers financial investors, alongside its technology, telecom and media bankers (TMT) under Macario Prieto, head of TMT banking EMEA.

“In the long term, this regionalisation is also a result of Brexit, after which more business moved to the continent for regulatory reasons,” said Fink.

Frankfurt, Paris and Amsterdam fought to be the largest beneficiary from Brexit after Britain left the European Union, with Munich proving to be an unexpected beneficiary.

“The European continent as a whole has gained importance due to Brexit,” said Buennemeyer.

Perella Weinberg partners Stefan Jentzsch and Johann von Wersebe are based in Munich, while former Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE),  CFO Marcus Schenck moved from the advisory boutique to Lazard (LAZ.N), two years ago, but stayed in Munich.

And another U.S. investment banking boutique, PJT Partners (PJT.N), plans to open an office in Munich soon, people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

Most bankers agree, however, that Munich is unlikely to rival the more internationally open Frankfurt as Germany’s banking capital, with only a fraction of them employed in the Bavarian state capital for now.

“Viewed from other European countries, Munich is certainly attractive,” said Fink. “But at the start of a career, many colleagues feel at home quickly in Frankfurt.”

Image by: Pixabay

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