Under the proposed “Volcker rule”, banks in America will not be allowed to own private equity funds. But they can still profit from them.

Freeman & Co., a financial services research firm, reckons that a rise in buyouts could boost fees for investment banks by 20% this year. This follows a fallow spell in 2009, when fees plunged to their lowest level in a decade. At US$3.3bn, fees collected from private equity firms last year fell by 30% from 2008, led by a particularly steep decline in Europe. Globally, 2009’s fees were only a fifth of what banks collected during 2007’s buyout bonanza, a high-water mark unlikely to be revisited any time soon.

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