New head of leveraged finance at Deutsche in Australia

Marla Heller appointed to the new role as Deutsche acts as joint lead arranger and bookrunner on the financing for the Qantas bid.
Deutsche Bank has appointed Marla Heller as head of leveraged finance for Australia and New Zealand at a time when Australia is in the middle of a buy-out blitz. One of HellerÆs first jobs will be to oversees DeutscheÆs role as joint lead arranger and bookrunner on the financing for the A$11 billion leveraged buy-out of Qantas. Deutsche is arranging the financing for the Airline Partners Australia consortium which wants to buy 100% of the national airline.

In her newly created position, Heller will work closely with David Backler, head of the financial sponsors group in Australia, and Chris Gammons, head of debt products in Asia. Her appointment becomes effective on April 1.

Heller is transferring from Deutsche BankÆs Chicago office, where she is currently responsible for client relationships and loan portfolio management, reporting to the global head of leveraged finance, Mike Paasche.

The transfer coincides with an LBO blitz in Australia where a total of $26 billion was committed to buying Australian assets last year, making it the biggest buy-out market in Asia by a mile. Within a period of nine months last year, as many as eight multi-billion dollar deals were struck with top 100 Aussie companies, including Coles Myer, Brambles, Publishing & Broadcasting Limited and Channel Seven.

Banks have responded to the influx of private equity by setting up new leveraged finance teams or boosting their existing ones. The most active arrangers are firms like Credit Suisse, UBS, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Royal Bank of Scotland.

Scott Perkins, head of global banking, Australia and New Zealand, says the new appointment reflected the strong and growing demand for leveraged finance in the Australian market. ôDeutsche Bank led nine of the top ten leveraged buyouts announced globally last year, including Qantas here in Australia,ö he says.

ôThe appointment of someone of MarlaÆs calibre sends a strong signal of our commitment to service the BankÆs global financial sponsor clients in Australia, and grow our relationships with regional financial sponsors.ö

Recent Deutsche Bank equity research shows that the five major Australian domestic banks achieved only a 15% combined market share of the 2006 leveraged buyout lending, which suggests funding has been largely undertaken by foreign banks and other fixed income investors.
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