Australian expatriate investment bankers are returning home in large numbers, lured by the launch of new boutique advisory firms, a sharp pick up in deal-making and the safety of a country relatively unscathed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Signs of a strong economic rebound from a brief pandemic- induced recession are underscoring a trend that is starting to reverse a long tradition of Australian bankers heading overseas to more tax-friendly global financial centres.
“There is a brain gain happening in Australia, we are acquiring additional knowledge and experience,” said Nick Hughes, Australia co-head at UBS.
Corporate Australia has set a scorching start to 2021, with $6.21 billion worth of M&A deals already underway, more than seven times higher than the same period last year, according to Refinitiv data. That puts Australia second in the Asia Pacific in terms of deal value, behind only China, compared to its seventh place ranking over the same period in 2020.
The trend is expected to continue in the near-term, with big-ticket deals such as the possible sale of casino operator Crown Resorts (CWN.AX), and the divestment of some financial businesses in the pipeline.
The entry of two boutique firms, Barrenjoey Capital and Jarden, into the fray has fuelled a talent war in the country and pushed up wages by at least 20%, making it a rare bright spot for rainmakers.