Santander is accelerating the growth of its investment bank by hiring at least 50 bankers, mainly in the United States, according to two sources familiar with the matter, as reported by Reuters.
Spain’s largest bank is primarily known as a retail lender in Europe and Latin America but aims to become a major player in investment banking under the leadership of chairwoman and former JPMorgan banker Ana Botin.
For the expansion, at least 50 bankers will be hired, many of them from Credit Suisse, according to the sources.
More than 20 bankers have already been recruited, mostly in the United States, said the first source, adding that the announcement of the hiring spree could come within weeks. The new hires could start in August, the person said.
The hiring is under the supervision of Santander Corporate and Investment Banking head Jose Manuel Linares, who is also a former JPMorgan banker.
Santander is currently a minor player in American investment banking. However, it aims to become a “tier two” player over time, behind Wall Street giants like Goldman Sachs, according to the second source.
The hires will focus on areas such as leveraged finance and corporate services for multinational companies with a presence in Europe and Latin America, the sources said.
In addition to the United States, some new investment bankers will join Santander in the United Kingdom and Spain.
In the United States, the number of employees in corporate and investment banking activities has increased from around 500 at the end of 2019 to about 900, aided by the acquisition of U.S. fixed-income broker Amherst Pierpont.
In the United Kingdom, the number of employees in the same period has risen from 350 to about 700.
Redburn analyst Gonzalo Lopez said investors might be wary of a long-term strategy that could erode Santander’s capital buffer, which stood at 12.2% at the end of March, below the levels of many European rivals.
“One of the biggest concerns relates to Santander’s tight capital ratios,” Lopez said. “This is typically one of the biggest challenges for the growth of an investment banking business, as capital consumption…is greater.”
Earlier this year, Santander outlined plans to grow its investment banking activities in the United States by a total of 20% between 2023 and 2025, according to a strategy update.