No hope for ABN AMRO's leveraged finance team?

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As many as two thirds of ABN's leveraged financiers are reportedly being culled by RBS this week. It's a sorry state of affairs.

The Financial Times' Alphaville blog drew attention to the pain at the Dutch bank yesterday, with the news that the entire mortgage securitization team was cut on Tuesday and that leveraged financiers are next in line today.

According to Bloomberg, RBS is cutting 200 jobs all together, with a focus on ABN's leveraged loan, property finance and commercial mortgage-backed securities businesses.

ABN's leveraged finance team, thought to be around 25-strong, is headed by James Courtenay, who joined from CIBC (which has also culled its leveraged finance team) back in 2004. Attempts at contacting Courtenay, who was in constant meetings this morning - we suspect to impart bad news - met with zero success.

RBS's disaffection with ABN's leveraged financiers is entirely rational. While the Dutch bank's business ranked 19th in Europe last year, according to Dealogic, RBS ranked first. And in February RBS wrote down 2.5bn on its "mortgage-related and leveraged finance exposures".

For the RBS and ABN leveraged financiers who survive the cull, the future apparently looks bright(ish). "An upswing may be 18-24 months away," says one who claims to be safe. "With the RBS balance sheet we now have the ability to win significant business with financial sponsors, and we'll need a strong leveraged finance team to back that up."

For those who are let go, the options are limited. Justin Hams of recruitment firm Healy Hunt, says there are still a few roles at mid-market houses and in leveraged funds. But another recruiter says even this is optimistic: "They'll be looking at third or fourth tier houses, few of which have any jobs. I believe Landsbanki is looking for one person."

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