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A la recherche de Sylvain Hefes

Sylvain Hefes got his start in investment banking at Paris-based Banque Rothschild in the 1970s. So when he left Goldman Sachs recently after 12 years as a partner at the firm, it was only natural that he reconnect with his former colleague, David de Rothschild.

Sylvain Hefes got his start in investment banking at Paris-based Banque Rothschild in the 1970s. So when he left Goldman Sachs recently after 12 years as a partner at the firm, it was only natural that he reconnect with his former colleague, David de Rothschild.

Hefes joined Rothschild Group last month as a senior adviser in London and chairman of the executive board of Paris Orleans, the Rothschild family holding company. He takes over from de Rothschild, who steps up to vice chairman of the supervisory board of Paris Orléans. "It's a little bit like closing the circle," says Hefes.

The 52-year-old banker, who most recently ran Goldman's private banking business in Europe, will oversee the family's private equity investments and look for ways to grow Rothschild's investment banking business in both Europe and the U.S. The group is certainly on a roll in Europe: Rothschild topped the M&A fee tables there last year with an estimated $357 million in revenues from 211 deals.

Showing his adroitness at switching horses in midstream, Hefes is keen to stress the bank's differences from full-service rivals like Goldman, saying, "The natural way of growing is to be distinctively Rothschild, being an alternative and a complement to the big global entities."