Henry Catry leaves UBS

Catry, executive director at the firm’s Americas Infrastructure and Privatisation Department, will pursue other opportunities. Tom Osborne, the department’s New York head, and Stephen Paine, UBS’ global head of infrastructure investment banking, are still with the firm.

Henry Catry, executive director at UBS Investment Bank’s Americas Infrastructure and Privatisation Department in New York, has left the firm to pursue other opportunities.

A person familiar with his departure said Catry left the firm recently, though Tom Osborne, the New York-based managing director who heads the department, is still with the firm. So is Stephen Paine, UBS’s global head of infrastructure investment banking, based in London.

Catry isn’t the only infrastructure investment banker to depart from his firm recently. Jonathan Turnbull, Citi’s global head of infrastructure investment banking, also left his firm recently to pursue another opportunity.

Both UBS and Citi have infrastructure advisory teams in the US that, in recent years, have lost related business departments that can be big help in winning advisory mandates with public sector clients.

In June 2008, UBS got rid of its municipal finance practice, which ranked as one of the largest in the country. Weeks later, Citi cut down its project finance activities. Both cut-backs were necessitated by the credit crisis, which made municipal and project finance business a luxury to have during a difficult business environment.

For public sector clients, who issue municipal securities to finance their projects, a conversation about a security issuance can frequently turn into a conversation about other financing options, like public-private partnerships (PPPs). For buy-side clients, project finance – the issuance of long-term, non-recourse debt – can frequently lead to a discussion about a mergers and acquisitions advisory mandate.

And in the last year, with the government’s introduction of a new type of security called a Build America Bond, a taxable municipal bond that comes with a 35 percent rebate for the issuer’s interest cost, municipal underwriting has kept many bulge-bracket bankers far busier than PPP advisory mandates.

According to the US Treasury’s latest update, $106 billion of the securities have been issued through the end of May. The number of potential US PPP advisory mandates, while growing, is still very much a one-off business opportunity that only occasionally comes to market.

And when it does, competition is fierce. In Puerto Rico, which recently ran a competitive process to select its toll road PPP advisors, 13 firms bid for the opportunity, among them a mix of accounting firms, boutique investment banks and bulge-bracket firms.

UBS, which started the Americas Infrastructure and Privatisation Department in 2006, had been able to score plum advisory mandates, like a buy-side advisory assignment to the winning bidder in the failed $12.8 billion Pennsylvania Turnpike auction. But in recent months, the firm had not been winning much PPP advisory business, according to a scan of recently-awarded mandates.

A UBS spokesperson declined to comment.