All downhill at Lehmans? Not quite

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It's left the finances of some of Australia's biggest local governments in poor shape, but Lehman Brothers is adamant the Grange Securities fiasco and the credit squeeze won't force an early exit from the domestic market.

The global i-bank has grown its Australian staff by 50-60 over the past 12 months, according to Michelle Sprod, head of marketing at Lehmans. "We will continue to grow as the market dictates and opportunities arise," she adds. "These hires have been across all areas of the business such as fixed income, equities, investment management, investment banking and corporate infrastructure."

An industry insider, who preferred to remain anonymous, says the word on the street is that Lehmans is reassessing its position and taking a more conservative approach given current market conditions. "We aren't aware of any retrenchments, although they might have let some Grange people self-select out, to take up new opportunities."

Bob Olivier, a director of recruiter Olivier Group, says taking on 50-60 people is a significant increase, considering the size of Lehmans' local business, which is said to be about 180-strong. "I am also not surprised a few former Grange staff have left rather than been pushed."

Olivier adds: "Many banks are conscious about tightening their belt but don't want to let people go. When business picks up, you don't want to have lost your people capability. It's hard to grow it again. Retention is critical and [the banks] don't want to let people go unless they must."

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