RBS’s Hamilton takes global leveraged role

In a move designed to help RBS push further into the US large-cap buyout market, Euan Hamilton will be relocating to the US as part of his enhanced role as global head of leveraged finance.

Hamilton’s move has been timed to coincide with RBS’s current leading position in the European leveraged finance market. The bank currently ranks top in Thomson Financial’s league tables for bookrunning leveraged loans, both in number of deal and volume terms, with 57 issues worth US$27.09bn.

The growing strength of the European business coincides with the increased activity of the larger US private equity firms in the European market, such as Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Blackstone and Carlyle. Hamilton’s move to these sponsors’ home market will enable RBS to leverage the relationships built up during recent jumbos such as the €8.5bn buyout of Danish telecom TDC.

RBS established its US leveraged finance business in March 2001 with the hire of ex-Chase banker Ron Kantowitz. The team has since expanded to number more than 100 bankers, drawn mainly from the leading US investment and commercial banks.

Initially, the bank focused mainly on mid-market transactions of between US$150m and US$500m, while building up the necessary distribution capability to compete at the higher end of the market. Beginning with mainly club-type syndications, the last five years have seen about 80% of RBS deals syndicated on a sole or joint-lead basis.

These efforts have been rewarded with joint lead roles on a number of jumbo transactions, including this year’s US$9.05bn financing that supports broadcaster Univision’s LBO by a TPG-led consortium, a role which RBS shared with five other banks; and last year’s US$11bn loan backing Capmark Financial Group’s buyout by a KKR-led consortium.

At the half-year point, RBS was 10th in Thomson Financial’s league tables for bookrunning US leveraged loans, with 19 issues and US$7.8bn. However, the bank still has much work to do in a market that continues to be dominated by the top three banks, with more than half of the total of 953 issues in the same period being led by the top two players.

Last year, RBS expanded its leveraged finance business into Asia by recruiting an eight-strong team to its Tokyo office. That team focuses mainly on Japanese deal flow, but also on deals from Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and China. So far, the group has completed three deals.