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Canadians move up in global mid-market mergers

Canada's investment banks are getting more international.

The Canadian banks that are spending money to expand outside Canada are making a mark in the global rankings for mid-market mergers and acquisitions advisory outside of their home country, even as the market for such deals in Canada cooled considerably.

Globally, activity in the mid-market (defined as deals worth up to $500-million (U.S.)) crept up in 2011, rising 3.9 per cent from 2010 to a total acquisition value of $740.7-billion, according to Thomson Reuters. Here in Canada, however, mid-market merger activity cooled markedly, dropping 14 per cent to $35.2-billion from 2010's $41-billion.

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Even so, some of Canada's biggest investment banks are doing more deals outside the country.

Canadian firms show up in rankings in the U.S., Europe and Latin America -- but with the global economy shifting increasingly toward Asia the tables show that Canada's banks have yet to significantly crack the mid-market mergers business involving companies in that region. To be fair, Canadian firms are doing business with Asian buyers and sellers, just on bigger deals than the mid-market. Most of the resource deals involving Asian buyers, for example, have been bigger than $500-million.

The international expansion at RBC Dominion Securities, an arm of Royal Bank of Canada , is paying off as the firm was the most prolific Canadian bank for deals. The firm finished 15th globally in the value of mid-market deals it worked after posting a 16 per cent increase from 2010. RBC increased the value of deals it did involving companies in the U.S., Latin America, Europe and the United Kingdom.

Bank of Montreal unit BMO Nesbitt Burns, which has focused its expansion on the U.S., posted a 34 per cent gain in the value of business it did with U.S. companies that were the targets of bids.

Toronto-Dominion Bank unit TD Securities showed up after doing more work in Latin America.

And London-based Hawkpoint Partners, which is being acquired by Canada's Canaccord Financial , was the 13th busiest adviser on transactions involving U.K. mid-market companies by volume and the 18th most active adviser on deals involving French companies.

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