RBC names new telecom banking chief

The Globe and Mail

RBC will report its quarterly earnings on Friday, Dec. 2, 2011. (NATHAN DENETTE/THE CANADIAN PRESS/NATHAN DENETTE/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Royal Bank of Canada’s investment banking unit has hired a new head of communications, media and technology banking in Canada, bringing over a senior deal maker from Morgan Stanley to run the business.

RBC hired Alex Graham, who was a managing director at Morgan Stanley. He will replace Dan Coholan, who is retiring from the post.

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Being a telecommunications and media banker at a U.S. firm has been a tough place to be in recent years. Because of ownership restrictions, most mergers are domestic, reducing the need for cross-border advice. And while Canadian telecommunications and media firms once raised a lot of money in U.S. bond markets, they largely borrow in Canada now. The result is that it’s been hard for foreign firms to compete with domestic banks in the telecommunications and media business.

Still, Morgan Stanley found some choice roles. Notably, Morgan Stanley did work as an adviser on the sale of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, a deal that required not just a knowledge of the media business but also the North American market for sports franchises.

Prior to Morgan Stanley, Mr. Graham worked at Citigroup. Before that, he was at Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette, and Alex. Brown, firms that have long since disappeared into larger banks via acquisition.

Mr. Graham is the second senior communications and media banker to move in recent weeks. Deep Khosla, who had headed telecom and run Quebec for J.P. Morgan, recently left for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. In a sense, a similar dynamic was at play with Mr. Khosla as with Mr. Graham.

Merrill Lynch has been in Canada for so long that it has built up an operation that puts it in the middle ground between an American bank and a Canadian one. Rather than focus simply on helping clients raise money outside Canada, Merrill has built the ability to raise money in Canada, making it more of a potential player in media and telecom deals.