Lazard, the global investment bank, has been quietly recruiting a 10-person team in London to head up its newly created "Venture and Growth Banking" division to match investors with European scale-ups.
Unlike some investment banks, the focus of Lazard Venture and Growth Banking will include Series B and C. That's earlier than many startups typically engage the help of an investment bank when raising capital, and speaks to the sheer number of European startups currently chasing a pool of venture capital that is increasingly global and fragmented.
The Lazard Venture and Growth Banking team will be headed up by ex-Numis employees Garri Jones and Nick James, with both serving as managing directors.
Noteworthy, according to his LinkedIn profile, Jones was previously venture and broking lead at Numis. He was also a founding partner at Circle Health, helping to grow the company from seed to IPO. Jones is also a board member of stock photo startup Picfair.
James, who will take up the role of COO at Lazard Venture and Growth Banking, is a well-respected equity research analyst and also recently left Numis (his LinkenIn says he is on gardening leave). He was previously an investment manager at Nomura in its technology VC team.
The other eight members of the team are said to be a mix of experienced entrepreneurs, bankers, engineers and data scientists.
In particular, I understand the Lazard Venture and Growth Banking team see untapped growth-stage opportunities beyond more "classic" VC sectors, such as consumer, SaaS and fintech, to also include AI, life sciences and clean tech -- areas that requite deep tech and engineering expertise to evaluate and understand properly.
In other words, Lazard believes that intermediation in the form of an investment bank with the right team and connections can make the difference at Series B, C and beyond -- both for investors and companies seeking capital.
Specifically, Lazard Venture and Growth Banking will look to identify the top 100 fastest-growing startups in Europe and connect them to 400 or so investors. These investors will be a mix of institutional funding, including venture capital and private equity, along with sovereign wealth funds, and high-net-worth individuals.
A large proportion of investors will be made up of corporates, too. I understand the thinking within the new Lazard division is that there in an abundance of corporate venture that remains untapped, with some of Europe's largest corporates hoping to play catch-up after historically underinvesting in R&D.
However, it isn't simply a case of matching corporates (or their venture arms) with fast-growing startups. It is equally important to match the right corporates to the right startups -- and, again, this is where the Lazard Venture and Growth Banking team believes it can add value.
Meanwhile, Lazard is also planning to host a three-day conference in April 2020 where it will bring leading companies and global investors together through a series of panel discussions and "bespoke investor and company meetings."