Times Colonist

Royal Bank buys U.S. firm

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TORONTO — The investment banking arm of Royal Bank of Canada plans to acquire Houston-based energy advisory firm Richardson Barr & Co., bolstering its U.S. business as oil prices are soaring and private asset sales may be on the upswing.

RBC Capital Markets, which focuses on middle-market companies in its investment banking business, said yesterday that it is buying Richardson Barr, which was founded in 2003 and advises exploratio­n and production companies on acquisitio­ns and divestitur­es. Terms were not disclosed.

Richardson Barr targets corporate and asset transactio­ns valued at $50 million to $1 billion, according to its website. Services include private oil and gas company sales, oil and gas asset divestitur­es, and fairness opinions and valuations.

“What you’ve seen is a steady increase in the total asset and divestitur­e work that’s gone on in the United States,” Peter de Vos, RBC Capital Markets’ head of U.S. investment banking, told Reuters.

That business has “a fairly high correlatio­n” with the oil price, de Vos said. In addition, sales of private oil and gas assets are expected to increase in the next year or so for tax reasons.

The deal brings experience­d engineers, geologists and finance profession­als to its energy group, which is already the largest unit within the U.S. investment bank, de Vos said.

RBC intends to keep expanding its energy group, and is also looking to build up its U.S. industrial and consumer expertise, he added.

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