Citi’s Phil Drury Makes a Play for European Capital Markets

As new head of EMEA capital markets origination, the former pro rugby player aims to push the bank to the top of the league.


in September, Phil Drury returned to his native Britain after 15 years in New York to take a new job as head of capital markets origination for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Citigroup just as the Rugby World Cup was kicking off. Unfortunately for Drury, who played professional rugby in his 20s, host nation England was eliminated early. But he isn’t joining the chorus of critics. “We have a promising young side, and this is a time to show patience,” he says.

Drury, 42, has showed the same steadfastness and team spirit during his 19 years with Citi. “I’m a loyal person,” he says. “Clients like to see consistency, and I have developed a close bond with clients and colleagues.”

The London-based banker has just completed a four-year stint as co-head of Citi’s equity capital markets operation for the Americas, helping steer it to No. 1 in the U.S. initial public offering book-runner rankings for the first nine months of 2015. During that time the bank worked on 29 such deals with a combined value of $2.8 billion, according to Dealogic; it finished fifth for the same period in 2014, working on 40 transactions worth a total of $3.7 billion.

Drury has led many of the world’s largest IPOs, including last year’s $25 billion debut of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding on the New York Stock Exchange, the biggest public offering ever, for which Citi was a lead book runner. (Because it’s domiciled in China, Alibaba didn’t appear in Dealogic’s U.S. IPO rankings.) In 2014 he also worked on the $2.9 billion IPO of Synchrony Financial, the retail finance arm of General Electric. Among his other deals: General Motors Co.’s $20.1 billion flotation in 2010, credit card issuer Visa’s $17.9 billion offering in 2008 and U.S. alternative-asset titan Blackstone Group’s $4.1 billion IPO in 2007.

“Citi has been a lead bank on many of the offerings by our portfolio companies down the years, and Phil Drury is a big reason we keep using them,” says Jonathan Gray, global head of real estate at Blackstone in New York. “He’s great at execution, does a terrific job of providing transparency about how to price a deal to ensure it trades well and shows a strong level of responsiveness to any issue we have.”

This past summer Citi asked Drury to move from New York to take on its most senior capital markets role for EMEA after his predecessor, Michael Lavelle, was appointed to run the firm’s U.K. corporate and investment banking operations. As head of capital markets origination, Drury is responsible for meeting all of clients’ funding needs in debt and equity capital markets. “Our holistic approach is differentiated and attracted me to the role,” he explains. “Clients want solution-oriented advice across the capital structure.”

Although he admits that taking on additional responsibility for debt capital markets will be a new challenge, he’s undaunted: “Today’s leveraged buyouts are tomorrow’s IPOs.”

Born in Surrey, near London, Drury joined U.K. merchant bank Schroders as a graduate trainee in 1996 after earning a degree in politics and economics from the University of Exeter. At Reigate Grammar School he had been a decathlete and a rugby player, but he chose to focus on the latter because he preferred the team ethos and camaraderie to hours spent training alone.

As a young man Drury juggled banking with a promising career as a rugby center. He remembers leaving the office to train with the London Irish club under Sir Clive Woodward, who went on to coach England to its 2003 World Cup victory. He made half a dozen first-team appearances for the club, heading back to his desk after training and matches to work through the wee hours.

Although Drury has since hung up his cleats, he’s served on the board of Play Rugby USA, a nonprofit founded by his friend, former U.S. Eagles player Mark Griffin, whose stated goal is to develop youth through the sport.

At Schroders, Drury moved from investment banking into equity capital markets as an associate. When Citi acquired the firm in 2000, he expressed an interest in working in New York to his then-boss Jim Cowles, who is now head of Citi’s EMEA operations. Later that year he was dispatched to the U.S. to work in the bank’s ECM department. He became a managing director in 2005, when he was named head of equity capital markets syndicate; in 2011 he was appointed to the Americas co-head post with Douglas Adams.

Drury says Citi has a close-knit culture that is remarkable for a firm of its size: In his previous role he worked with a group of managing directors who had stuck together since 2000. “The financial crisis brought us closer together in order to rebuild the firm,” he recalls.

He chose equity capital markets because he enjoyed working with growing companies and helping them realize their ambitions. But he’s reluctant to single out any one deal: “Every IPO promotes a very special bond with a company’s management and is memorable for that reason.”

Drury sees great potential for a surge in European capital markets activity amid conditions similar to those that have prevailed in the U.S. over the past few years. “Europe’s economies are being supported by a strong central bank as they return to growth,” he says. “There are exciting growth companies looking to raise fresh capital, and we have a buoyant M&A market.”

He also sees an opportunity for his firm to make strides in EMEA, where it aims to be a leader across capital markets: “Citi has meaningfully invested in EMEA, demonstrating our commitment to the region as a key priority.”

For Drury, another priority is reuniting with his wife and three children, who will join him from New York next year. “There’s no time limit on my time in London,” he says. “I’m here for as long as it takes to get the job done.” •