Dodging bullets at Dresdner

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If Commerzbank acquires Dresdner, the outcome may not be pretty for Dresdner Kleinwort's London-based bankers. Strangely enough, it seems most are staying put, rabbit in the headlights-style.

"Commerzbank have downsized their investment banking business quite significantly over the past few years," says Simon Maughan, an analyst at MF Global and former Dresdner-ite. "If it acquires Dresdner the logical thing would seem to be for it to downsize Dresdner Kleinwort substantially."

The possibility of such an outcome hasn't gone unnoticed at Dresdner Kleinwort's London HQ. "Commerzbank is said to have already spoken to people at Dresdner in New York and told them it plans to slim down the business by 40%," says one Dresdner banker, adding that the biggest overlaps are in the rates business and the alternative investment space.

On the other hand, however, a Commerzbank purchase could be advantageous: "You also hear that Commerzbank wants to make a push back into investment banking and that Dresdner's a good match because there's little overlap between the two operations," says our source. "The reality will probably be somewhere between the two."

This could be why Dresdner bankers don't seem to be rushing for the exits. Thirteen people left for Collins Stewart at the start of last month (Reuters), but there's little sign of a mass exodus just yet.

"We're not getting that many CVs from Dresdner at this moment in time," says Alex Williams at search firm Pelham International. "People are waiting to see who the ultimate owner is going to be - if Lloyds TSB buys them you could have an interesting platform."