The AFR Magazine‘s hotly anticipated annual Power issue includes lists of the key players across six different industry sectors. Here are the top five investment banking influencers.

Big companies are doing big deals and the big investment banks are cashing in. Australia’s top-20 companies have dusted off M&A plans in the past year. There are the buyers (Amcor, South32, Transurban, Woodside), sellers (ANZ, BHP Billiton, Insurance Australia Group, Rio Tinto, Scentre, Suncorp, Woolworths), demergers (CBA, Wesfarmers) and those paving the way for future spin-offs (National Australia Bank, Telstra). The Lowys signed Australia’s biggest ever takeover for Westfield Group for $32 billion, while would-be suitors were rejected at Santos and Healthscope.

Goldman Sachs is in the thick of the big deals, along with UBS and Morgan Stanley. JPMorgan’s revamped local team is the notable improver, while Macquarie Capital – where a handful of senior dealmakers share the load – is humming. This year’s list is made up of bankers from inside those big banks, yet there are some noteworthy rainmakers outside the top five spots. Michael Stock is trying to build an Australian team for his new employer, Jefferies. The former Credit Suisse banker this year stole the limelight as sole adviser to Nine Entertainment Co on its high-profile bid for Fairfax Media. Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Joe Fayyad is dragging the big American back into the spotlight, while Lazard’s wily Andrew Leyden pulled a $1.9 billion rabbit out of his hat at Sirtex Medical. Highbury’s Alan Young and Matthew Roberts prosecute the case for boutiques, as does Greenhill. Meanwhile, Citi’s Tony Osmond and Dragi Ristevski are pushing hard.

1. Christian Johnston

A perennial on this power list, Johnston has moved up to the number one spot, thanks to $60 billion worth of deals announced in the past year. The Goldman Sachs head of investment banking for Australia advised Unibail-Rodamco on its takeover of Westfield Group. He is working with Wesfarmers on its Coles spin-off and helped BHP Billiton sell its onshore assets in the US.


2. Aidan Allen

A new shop means a new start, and so it is that UBS’ reclaimed head of investment banking, Aidan Allen, falls from No. 1 on last year’s list to second place. It’s been a quieter year of back-room hustling for Allen, who has had to shore up internal and external relationships. He has retained the lucrative Woolworths account as a client from his four years at Citi. His biggest asset is that he runs a team that is regarded as the benchmark in Australian investment banking. Allen works closely with global capital markets head Robbie Vanderzeil as well as key coverage bankers and senior advisers Tim Church, Geoff Davis, Jarrod Key, Kelvin Barry and Campbell Stewart, among others.

3. Paul Uren

Uren’s arrival at JPMorgan in 2015 marked the dawn of a new era at the bank. Insiders reckon the softly spoken Kiwi, now the Wall Street giant’s country head and banking boss, has lifted the team’s intensity and hunger. He led the Harbour Energy approach for Santos and muscled his way onto the defence for APA Group and Investa Office Fund. Uren also oversaw acquisition financing for Reece and Reliance Worldwide, ably supported by capital markets duo Dyson Bowditch and Jabe Jerram. Uren has benefited from the powerful money-raising machine of his parent bank in New York. On Wall Street, JPMorgan is famous for its lightning-fast debt-raising skills, even in times of crisis.

4. Richard Wagner

As chief executive of Morgan Stanley Australia, the affable Wagner has had to find a balance between trying to run all the big deals and giving his team enough freedom to manage their own transactions. His lieutenants include key dealmakers Julian Peck, Rick Ball and Mark Burmeister, and Wagner fights hard for the local franchise. He’s also made a handful of senior hires, including Telstra executive Emma-Jane Newton and Corey Dawson from Westpac. That said, he has shown his team he hasn’t forgotten how to spearhead a transaction, advising CK Infrastructure on its $13 billion bid for APA Group and Oxford Properties Group in its $3.5 billion quest for Investa Office Fund. 

5. John Pickhaver and Tim Joyce

Macquarie has entrusted these two unassuming but highly competent bankers to run its most important investment banking team, Macquarie Capital Australia. The pair has worked tirelessly in the past two years to uphold Macquarie’s entrepreneurial culture, to the envy of its rivals. Marquee deals they oversaw include advising Transurban for WestConnex and defending APA Group. Neither tries to throw his weight around but both command respect and are supported by senior bankers such as Jeremy Tasker, Marianne Birch, Geoff Joyce, Laura Golis and Michael Burn. Importantly, Pickhaver (pictured) and Joyce have the backing of Macquarie’s top brass, including incoming CEO Shemara Wikramanayake.

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