Dresdner Kleinwort’s UK corporate financiers and equity professionals are proving eminently employable elsewhere (think Evolution, Greenhill and Thomas Weisel). Was Commerzbank too hasty in sending them packing?
Not unsurprisingly, former DK employees say it was.
“The UK operation was a corporate broking and midmarket franchise,” says one of DK’s most senior former investment bankers. “And if there was ever a year in which you wanted a corporate broking business, this is it,” he adds. “It’s very difficult to lose money in advisory and you should at least cover your costs. It’s a very non-volatile and non-capital intensive business. I thought this was what Commerzbank was interested in.”
Andrew Umbers, chief exec of Evolution’s securities unit, which has hired 45 of Dresdner’s staff, is certainly interested. He told The Telegraph that Evolution is returning to “good old-fashioned merchant banking,” which is what “clients want a return to.”
Headhunters say star Dresdner analysts like Arturo De Frias and Simon Hales, both of whom joined Evolution, had “several opportunities” of alternative employment, with interest from banks like BarCap and Unicredit.
However, banking analyst Simon Maughan at MF Global says Commerzbank’s haste in trimming such desirable staff wasn’t totally irrational: “Let’s face it, Dresdner has a pretty chequered history of running profitably – all the good stuff they do on the agency side they have tended to mess up on lending and prop trading.”