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How French investment banking fared in 2019

Lucille Jones
Lucille Jones
Analyst, Deals Intelligence

French investment banking fee income declined in 2019 after an overseas M&A spending spree was not replicated at home. Deals Intelligence examines the deal trends, including a stronger performance for debt capital markets and a resurgence in IPO activity.


  1. Capital markets activity in France saw a resurgence in IPOs in 2019, with eight new listings raising a total of US$3.1 billion.
  2. French companies were active in overseas dealmaking, but the value of inbound acquisitions dropped 32 percent and domestic deals fell seven percent.
  3. Citi was the lead M&A advisor in France in 2019 after working on 19 deals worth a combined $81 billion.

French investment banking experienced a mixed year in 2019, with increased equity and debt issuance and a surge in outbound M&A offset by a shortage of inbound acquisitions and domestic deals. As a result, the total fees generated by French investment banking activity declined 12 percent compared with 2018.

Pour en savoir plus sur le paysage de la banque d’investissement en France, cliquez ici.

Resurgent IPO activity

Debt capital markets had their best year since 2015, raising US$277 billion, nine percent up on the previous year. The financial sector accounted for around half of issuance, with government and agency bonds 17 percent of the market.

Equity issuance was up 27 percent on the year, with an aggregate $13.7 billion raised, driven by a resurgence in IPO activity. Eight new listings raised a total of $3.1 billion, the highest level since 2015.

They included national lottery games operator Francaise des Jeux, which raised $2 billion in November, while glass bottle maker Verallia raised $1 billion in October.

These market debuts helped to offset a 28 percent decline in the value of follow-on equity raisings, which slumped to just $5.4 billion, the lowest level since 2011.

Société Générale led the French equity capital market rankings, with a 16 percent market share.

Rise in overseas M&A deals

French companies were particularly active in overseas corporate acquisitions during 2019, with French outbound M&A totalling $115 billion, up by a third on the year, and the third highest total since 2000.

The U.S. was the biggest destination for French overseas investment, followed by the UK, which saw a three-fold increase from French buyers despite Brexit uncertainty.

Outbound M&A volumes top targeted nations. How French investment banking fared in 2019

By contrast, deals where a French company was the target fell 22 percent on 2018 to a six-year low of $58 billion, as inbound acquisitions dropped 32 percent and domestic deals fell by 7 percent.

This fall was reflected for Europe as a whole, where deals with a European target company were down 25 percent since 2018.

Citi was the lead M&A advisor in France during 2019, shooting up from ninth place in 2018. The bank worked on 19 deals worth a combined $81 billion.

French investment banking fee income

Total fee income in France sank 12 percent to $3 billion, the lowest level in four years, with M&A fees seeing the largest decline.

Similar falls were seen in Germany (down 19 percent) and the Netherlands (11 percent). BNP Paribas was the market’s biggest fee earner in 2019, with a total of $303 million, representing a tenth of the market.Graph showing investment banking fee volumes 2000-19. How French investment banking fared in 2019

Pour en savoir plus sur le paysage de la banque d’investissement en France, cliquez ici.

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