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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

RenCap Lands Top Merrill Lynch Exec

Renaissance Capital has hired away a heavy-hitter from a global investment bank, suggesting it expects some major oil and gas deals next year.

Chris Baxter, head of the European Energy and Power division at Merrill Lynch, will become head of the Renaissance's Investment Banking Group at the end of October, the company will announce Thursday.

Baxter, 40, has been involved in several high-profile deals during his time at Merrill, most recently advising BP in its multibillion partnership with the Tyumen Oil Co., or TNK.

"The Russian market is the most exciting financial market in the world," Baxter said Wednesday, explaining his decision to accept the post.

He expects continued strength in the key oil sector, with world prices remaining high due to strong OPEC discipline and increasing demand from China and the United States.

In addition, Russian oil groups have been successful in controlling their production expenditures, Baxter said, adding that the sector is among the world's most cost-efficient.

Baxter's arrival signals more optimism on the consolidation front. "We do expect large [oil and gas] deals," Renaissance CEO Stephen Jennings said. "We've been in discussions with a number of the global majors on a range of issues," he added, without elaborating.

Investment banking is on the upswing, said James Fenkner, head of research at Troika Dialog, another brokerage.

In particular, Troika expects big IPO and bond placements from the likes of Yukos.

But Fenkner doubted Russian banks would get a large share of the activity. "Yukos can choose any investment bank they want around the world," and would probably prefer to deal with a major global player, he said.

In mid-September, the Financial Times reported that London-based HSBC, the world's No. 2 bank by market value, was eyeing a stake in Renaissance.

But a spokesman for Renaissance denied this. "We have not been talking to anyone, nor are we planning to," he said.

Meanwhile, Troika Dialog is set to lose its head of investment banking, Ruben Aganbegyan, to its cross-town rival. At Renaissance, he will focus on "high-level investment banking, fixed income and asset management transactions," a statement said.

Aganbegyan, 31, is the son of Abel Aganbegyan, a chief economic adviser to former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

Renaissance also cherry-picked Ben Hakham, managing director of UBS Warburg's global technology group since 1994, naming the 38-year-old as head of international equity sales and head of the group's London office.