Have Cazenove bankers really escaped the chop?

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If it seems too good to be true, it quite probably is. According to Reuters, JPMorgan Cazenove is eliminating a mere 2% of its 600 staff in anticipation of 'slower business' in 2009. Such moderation is surprising, particularly given that joint venture partner JPMorgan is eliminating 10% of its people globally.

What makes Cazenove confident that the removal of 12 people is sufficient? The bank isn't commenting.

As far as the UK market goes, Cazenove is undoubtedly one of the country's leading players. In the third quarter of 2008, it ranked first in UK ECM, first in UK DCM and second in UK M&A.

However, league table pre-eminence is no guarantee of cheer. Although Caz bankers are working on some of the big deals of the moment, such as the Standard Chartered rights issue, UK capital markets activity is deader than it's ever been, and UK M&A activity was down 50% year on year in the first three quarters.

The reality of the situation is more likely to be that last week's announcement is a prelude to deeper job cuts in the New Year.

Cazenove's chief executive, Naguib Kheraj, remains new to the role, having started only on 6 October. It was four months before John Thain announced swathing redundancies after starting as chief executive of Merrill Lynch. JPMorgan Cazenove bankers may have February redundancies to look forward to.