Lazard Ltd. (NYSE:LAZ) Q2 2020 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript

Jul 31, 2020 • 08:00 am ET


Lazard Ltd. (NYSE:LAZ) Q2 2020 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript


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Good morning, and welcome to Lazard's Second Quarter and First Half 2020 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions]

At this time, I will turn the call over to Alexandra Deignan, Lazard's Head of Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

Alexandra Deignan

Good morning. Thank you, Anita. Welcome to Lazard's earnings call for the second quarter and first half of 2020. I'm Alexandra Deignan, the Company's Head of Investor Relations.

In addition to today's audio comments, we posted our earnings release and investor presentation, which you can access on our website. A replay of this call will also be available on our website later today.

Before we begin, let me remind you that we may make forward-looking statements about our business and performance. There are important factors that could cause our actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, those factors discussed in the Company's SEC filings, which you can access on our website. Lazard assumes no responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of these forward-looking statements and assumes no duty to update these forward-looking statements.

Today's discussion also includes certain non-GAAP financial measures that we believe are meaningful when evaluating the Company's performance. A reconciliation of these non-GAAP financial measures to the comparable GAAP measures is provided in our earnings release and investor presentation.

Hosting our call today are Kenneth Jacobs, Lazard's Chairman Chief Executive Officer; and Evan Russo, Chief Financial Officer. They will provide opening remarks, and then we will open the call to questions.

I'll now turn the call over to Ken.

Kenneth M. Jacobs

Thank you, Ale. Good morning. Our second quarter and first half results reflect steady operating performance across our business in an uncertain environment. Financial advisory results for the second quarter highlighted the breadth of our advisory services as we expected, the pace of M&A completions and announcements declined in line with the market. However, strategic discussions with clients are increasingly constructive, especially in Europe as countries eased their lockdown restrictions. A strong quarter in restructuring and capital markets advisory largely offset slower M&A activity as we served clients with immediate liquidity issues caused by the pandemic's economic shock. We advised on a number of the largest assignments in the U.S. energy and retail sectors. We have also completed the successful restructuring of PG&E, the largest utility bankruptcy in U.S. history.

For the first half of the year, Lazard was the global leader in announced restructuring assignments by dollar volume. We are serving clients with expertise built over decades and through cycles in capital structure, capital raising, debt negotiations, restructuring and exchange offers, all supported by our global platform and industry sector teams. Our sovereign advisory practice has also seen a significant increase in activity. We are advising countries in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East on debt restructuring, and we continue to advise governments in developed economies on programs to support the private sector.

In Asset Management, our platforms benefited from the rebound