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As the Troika-Sberbank merger draws to a close, who else is going to leave?



Troika Dialog’s chief operating officer (COO) Maria Korneeva has left the investment bank after more than a decade just as Sberbank, the Russian state savings bank is about to complete its $1bn + acquisition. She told Bloomberg she wanted to take “a short break” and consider career opportunities.

Ms Korneeva’s departure is unlikely to be an isolated one. As the merger – originally expected to complete in the last quarter of 2011 – draws to a close next month, further exits seem inevitable.  Jacques Der Megreditchian, Troika’s chief business officer and head of global markets, was early to jump ship last September. His departure was greeted by surprise: he was described by headhunters as “very much a Troika guy” and part of a strong corporate culture.

“Troika was always known for a very family atmosphere. Of course there are changes now – it is a much bigger organisation and changes there will inevitably trigger departures” says Olga Selivanova-Shoff, a London partner in the financial services practice at global search firm Heidrick & Struggles.

Gregory Camou, head of the Moscow office of international search firm Pedersen & Partners says: “In any ownership change in a business, people leave. It is partly a business integration/efficiency issue – Sber will try to use a lot of its internal resources rather than double them in Troika. But there is also a cultural issue – a switch from a private partnership business philosophy to a large state related business means you are going to have senior managers unwilling to make that jump.”

While more departures seem inevitable, Troika is also said to have hired three senior bankers in the past month as part of its plans to increase its investment banking staff of 100 by 25% to 40% within the next 14 months.

After all, the purpose of the Troika/Sberbank deal was, as one Moscow headhunter puts it – “to establish a fairly wide investment banking business line quickly, or buy ‘market share’ – rather than to buy the DNA of Troika, which was always very different.”

In the latest ‘Troika in the press’ coverage on Troika Dialog’s website, it says the Sberbank acquisition will make the bank “the leading underwriter of Russian domestic debt, with a combined market share of 21.1% based on their performance so far this year, putting it ahead of VTB at 15.1%.”

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