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Morning Coffee: The most mysterious and notorious trader of the past decade. Drunken deal goes wrong

Christian Bittar

Who exactly is Christian Bittar?

Who is Christian Bittar? We were among the first to report on Bittar’s huge pay in 2013. Since then, things have taken a turn for the worse for the enigmatic French trader.

Bittar appeared in court in London yesterday to be formally charged with manipulating interest rates. The ex-Deutsche Bank proprietary trader was one of six people to be charged, but stood separate from the rest for the sheer enormity of the bail charge levied against him. While ex-Barclays trader Carlo Palombo was bailed for £150k and Achim Kraemer (Deutsche’s current head of global liquidity transfer pricing) was bailed for £100k, Bittar was bailed for £1m.

The fine reflects his huge earnings at Deutsche. In 2008, Bittar made €500m in profit for Deutsche and was reportedly due a bonus of more than €50m for that year alone under the terms of his employment contract. When Bittar was dismissed from Deutsche over rate rigging allegations in 2011, the bank clawed back €40m in bonuses. Nonetheless, Bittar is almost certainly a very wealthy man: over the ten year period he worked for Deutsche, he is likely to have made a small fortune.

In the circumstances, the lack of visibility surrounding Bittar’s education and career is unusual. We know very little about him, except that he’s French, was born on January 12th 1972, and joined Deutsche Bank in 2001 aged 29. At Deutsche, he allegedly became a favourite of ex-CEO Anshu Jain, making huge profits for the bank and garnering support from the leader until his career ended ignominiously four years ago. Along with the five other traders, Bittar is now facing criminal charges of  conspiring to “procure or make submissions” in relation to Euribor that were false. If convicted, he could go the same way as Tom Hayes, the former UBS trader whose letters from prison bemoaning drug overdoses and fights reveal just how far super successful traders from the past decade can fall.

Separately, beware drunken entrepreneurs making unreasonably generous promises. Jeff Blue, a former managing director at London-based boutique DC Advisory Partners and director at Merrill Lynch, quit banking in November 2012 to join Sports Direct, the sporting goods retailer, as a strategic adviser. Whilst drinking in a London pub, Sports Direct owner and founder Mike Ashley allegedly offered to pay Blue £15m if he could repair Ashley’s damaged relationship with banks and substantially increase Sports Direct’s share price. Blue claims to have fulfilled Ashley’s request, but has ‘only’ been paid £1m. Always get it in writing…

Meanwhile:

Fixed income, currencies and commodities will contribute their lowest share to revenues for a decade in 2015. (Financial News) 

Banks are cutting expenses to maintain profits, but finding expenses to cut is getting harder and harder to do. (Bloomberg) 

Fund managers will have to adhere to the bonus cap too when it’s introduced in 2017. Many are complaining that it will make costs unnecessarily rigid. (WSJ) 

Sergio Ermotti wants to hire 600 bankers in China. (Bloomberg)

Ermotti’s expansion would bring UBS’s number of employees onshore to about 1,200. Goldman Sachs has close to 350 employees in China. (Bloomberg) 

Credit Suisse’s UK head Garrett Curran is to leave early next month. (Reuters) 

Andrew Lombara, who had been with J.P. Morgan for 10 years (and was head of US government bond trading), left on Friday, along with treasury trader Chi Lee. (Financial Times) 

Compliance fail as BNP Paribas, Morgan Stanley and Nomura are among the banks to have lost at least £97m trading with Invexstar Capital Management, a tiny brokerage firm with almost no capital. (The Times)

How to sit like a hedge fund manager: “The legs, if they weren’t crossed at right angles, tended to be close over the knee, their hands put together.” (Bloomberg View) 

What you do when your parent is a wealthy financier: become an actress of DJ. (Evening Standard) 

Having an unanswered calling in life is worse than having no calling at all. (Psychological Society) 

Unmistakable signs of the desperate job seeker. (Forbes)

“Historically, societies that insisted people work more than three days a week were usually slave societies. We do not need to work more than 20 hours a week.” (Vice) 

Photo credit:  Shadowy Figure by Mac(3)  is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

 

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