24 hours after the exit of Matthew Westerman from HSBC and the rumours have begun. With Westerman said to have made a "personal decision" to leave at HSBC after less than two years at the end of this month, speculation is growing that he has something else lined up. Fingers are pointing at Deutsche Bank.
"People are saying that Westerman has a "big job" lined up at DB," says one senior figure on Wall Street, speaking off the record. "It makes sense - they need new blood at the very senior end."
Deutsche Bank declined to comment on the rumours, and Westerman didn't respond to an email. The claims were dismissed by other people in the market.
Nonetheless, one headhunter who has strong connections with Deutsche Bank said the move would have a certain coherence. Deutsche Bank's M&A and capital markets business is struggling, with revenues across origination and advisory declining by 2% in the first nine months of this year versus last year, compared to an increase of nearly 15% at Barclays. However, Deutsche hired Alistair Warren from Goldman Sachs to improve its EMEA investment banking division two years ago, and Westerman's arrival would likely ruffle some feathers.
And yet, if Westerman were to arrive at Deutsche he should at least be more at home there than at HSBC, where his hard-driving approach and 6am meetings caused problems. Westerman spent nearly 16 years at Goldman Sachs and is said to be infused with the Goldman ethos of getting things done. Deutsche already has plenty of ex-Goldman people in very senior roles: alongside Warren, chairman Paul M. Achleitner is a Goldman alumnus, as is CFO Marcus Schenck. "Schenck is assembling a war chest of ex-Goldman people at DB," says another senior banker. In the circumstances, early morning meetings at DB are likely to be less out of the ordinary.
For the moment, though, Westerman is still employed by HSBC. However, the knives are already coming out for him at his soon to be former employer. One senior HSBC banker said Westerman's exit was precipitated by a poor relationship with Samir Assaf, chief executive of HSBC global banking and markets. Another denied that Westerman had much to do with bringing in big deals like the refinancing of Wind Tre, which have helped boost HSBC's position in this year's league tables.
Westerman will undoubtedly be missed at HSBC though. "He was tough to work with," says one HSBC director, "But it was tough love. He was really enhancing the quality of our coverage and this has come as a big shock to a lot of people."
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