Scottish banks are set to take the helm of acquisition finance in the Spanish market. Traditionally dominated by French banks such as SocGen and BNP Paribas, the most recent entrant to the Spanish private equity market is Bank of Scotland, which recently celebrated the launch of its Madrid office.
Bank of Scotland’s Spanish office, located in the central financial district of Madrid, has been operational since May and offers a full range of corporate banking services including acquisition finance, corporate banking, real estate finance, infrastructure finance and project finance. The six-strong team headed by Gordon More and Juan Carlos Gabilondo has already written in excess of €100 million since its doors opened earlier this year.
As the team continues to grow there are plans to open new, bigger offices before year-end. More and Gabilondo have recruited a purely local team – targeting the Spanish business community, finance houses and local banks. They have also recruited from French banks, which demonstrate considerable experience of working in the Spanish market. More said: “We saw a mix of people applying for positions. We are seeing more and more opportunities to recruit high quality people because of the high number of institutions that are being forced to cut staffing levels.” The bank is on an expansion drive. Stewart Livingston, head of European Corporate Business, said: “We are one of the few banks that is actively expanding. Over the last 12 months our European team has grown over one and three quarter times. The next two major European cities we will consider are Stockholm and Milan – Italy has a lot of the dynamics of the Spanish market and so we should be able to transfer our skills.”
More is realistic about deal flow: “You’re not going to get the Le Grand or NCP deals in Spain. Deal flow is slow, but has definitely picked up since the summer. This year for completions it will be poor, but 2003 will pick up.”
Juan Carlos Gabillondo said: “We aim to bring financial strength, flexibility of approach and depth of market understanding to Spain and Portugal. If you add to that the financial muscle of the HBOS Group – now Europe’s ninth largest bank – we are confident that this will open up market choice for corporate customers.”
Another key part of the HBOS group, Banco Halifax Hispania, a mortgage and savings provider, has been operating in Spain since 1993. With the arrival of the Bank of Scotland corporate banking operation, the HBOS group is now able to offer its products and services to individual customers and major companies alike.