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

Jul 31, 2020 • 08:00 am ET

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

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Q & A
Analyst
Manan Gosalia

soon as people can travel a little bit and we get some more certainty in the environment? Basically, I'm just trying to assess how much of a call spring effect you could have once -- on due closings once the environment changes.

Executive
Kenneth M. Jacobs

Sure. Look, second quarter -- any activity that closed in the second quarter was probably all related to things that started last year. Very new things happen that quickly in the M&A side. Restructuring actually is a little different in that regard and such.

Right now, what we're seeing is a combination of two things. One is there -- and it's not across the board, and I wouldn't -- and again, I say there are a lot of -- as I've said consistently, there are a lot of crosswinds. But there are a number of processes which were postponed. With the onset of the pandemic, that have started again, and we would expect to reach completion now. That's a function really, first, of the financing markets again opening up and also people becoming a little more confident with the outlook. I wouldn't say completely confident, but a little more confident. And again, it's going to be centered on industries which have had less impact from the pandemic. And then, second, which is I think somewhat encouraging, is there have been new processes that have started over the course of the last several weeks that were not envisioned pre-pandemic. I mean these are literally new assignments that are picking up and starting right now.

So what's going to be interesting to see is do these conversations accelerate and then the pace at which new conversations begin. I don't think I'm as worried about the virtual due diligence as much as I am about just the potential for dispersion of outcomes on the economy. It's more around the certainty or the ability to project or predict what the outlook is going to be for your business or for your industry that is going to drive conversations here. It less has to do with the -- whether you're going to be actually having to travel or have a -- rely on a virtual conversation here. I really think it's the substance of one's confidence in the outlook.

Analyst
Manan Gosalia

Got it. And then on the Asset Management side. Last quarter, you mentioned that you were surprised by the level of RFP activity that you're seeing. And you also said earlier on the call that you're seeing some strong gross inflows. Can you talk a little bit about how you think that should impact net flows for the rest of the year?

Executive
Kenneth M. Jacobs

Well, look, it's a little unpredictable in the institutional side because of the actual funding of mandates, but the level of unfunded mandates right now is running very high on a historical basis for us. That's encouraging. When exactly they fund is a little bit less certain. The demand, particularly for some of our products, our newer products in the sustainable area,