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Morning Coffee – Citi’s top woman banker comes in to Deutsche to do the work of two men. The trader who finally shut up about his big win

When Alison Harding-Jones left Citigroup in March last year, they replaced her with Robin Rousseau and Barry Weir as co-heads of European M&A.  As many commented at the time, it looked like it took two men to do the job of a woman. 

We know, co-head structures don’t really work like that, but now that she’s come back to Deutsche Bank as their new global head of M&A, it’s hard not to notice that previously the position was filled jointly by Berthold Fürst and Bruce Evans.  It is increasingly beginning to look like the equation “two men equals one AHJ” might be about right.

Of course we are still joking; Fürst and Evans were holding the fort on an interim basis and will continue to be there as heads of EMEA and Americas respectively.  But this is an interesting hiring for several reasons.

First, it’s a big name for Deutsche, at a time when its M&A franchise arguably needed them to make a statement of intent.  They were outside the top ten for M&A again in 2023 – seventeenth in global terms and only eleventh in their own back yard in EMEA.  That ranking is potentially a little bit harsh as it was an unusual year in which several boutiques had their rankings boosted by a small number of mega-deals in a flat market, but it’s still quite embarrassing. 

And second, it’s a return to the game for Harding-Jones herself.  When her departure from Citi was announced, lots of people assumed that she would be going back to making lemon meringue pies and chasing chickens in her famously fantastic country house.  In retrospect, it might have been seen as a clue when, in September she gave an interview describing UBS’ Andrea Orcel as “the best boss I ever had” that she might have been looking around for roles.

But this certainly isn’t someone who needs the money or has anything to prove.  If she’s coming back to the market, that’s a sign that as an experienced and well-connected senior player, her expectation is that there are going to be deals to do.  That’s particularly significant given that she’s returning to a firm where it is not exactly going to be possible to sit around and let the brand name pull the clients in.

So this is a bullish sign, and another piece of evidence to add to the mosaic picture that’s increasingly developing of a banking sector in which top players are not just making their normal statements of bland optimism, but taking real and costly moves to prepare themselves for a recovery.  Six months from now, lots more people at both Deutsche and Citi might feel like they’re doing the work of two men.

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Elsewhere, an anonymous investor gives a quote which will resonate with everyone in markets business, buy side or sell side.  In a profile of Michael Burry, he or she says that “These guys get it right one time and they won’t shut up afterwards”.

The context is that Burry has had something of a run of apocalyptic forecasts of imminent market crashes which have so far been badly wrong.  Of course this what he’s famous for – the film “The Big Short” is all about him being very wrong for a long time and then very very right.  But it seems like he’s feeling the pressure; he’s deleted his posts and gone quiet on social media.

It is an unfortunate, but practically inevitable fact about the markets that performance is cyclical; good trades are followed by bad trades.  And people pay most attention to you if you’ve been right in the recent past.  That means that the point of maximum public visibility for any high profile trader is going to be right at the end of a winning streak.  Or in other words, the worst trades you make are going to be the ones where everyone’s looking at you.

That’s why traders brag, to remind themselves, and everyone else, that they can play this game.  So the other half of the anonymous investor’s quote - “Maybe after getting it so wrong this year he’ll finally hang it up” – is very unlikely to be borne out.

Meanwhile…

Sarah Heffron Nichomoff has been given an unusual promotion off the trading floor; after 24 years at JP Morgan she’s gone from co-head of electronic client solutions and program trading to be chief data and analytics officer for the corporate and investment banking division.  This sort of move is often a sign of a high flyer being given experience across the bank. (Financial News)

Lots of politicians like the idea of having a sovereign wealth fund, but it’s quite difficult to actually do it, particularly if you don’t have a massive stream of hydrocarbons generating the wealth in the first place. (FT)

Citadel Securities is staffing up in European government bonds and sterling rates, hiring Stefan Boyce from BoA, Laury Zhou from BNP Paribas, Sergio Colantuono from Nomura and Nicolas Jacques from Goldman Sachs. (Bloomberg)

So far, it seems like there haven’t been any new big names from the banking industry in the newly released cache of Jeffery Epstein documents (which it’s important to remember is not a client list, just a bunch of names).  Here’s a summary of the impact on the industry. (American Banker)

Citi is beginning to show some signs that it’s been restructuring, not cutting.  They have filed to set up a wholly owned investment banking subsidiary in China as preparation for expansion in that market. (FT)

Barclays had a run of senior departures last year, but it’s building back; the latest big hire is Ryan Voegeli, who comes in from CIBC to be head of investment banking. (Bloomberg)

Zaher Jabarin manages an investment portfolio worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and supervises a fintech company specialised in complex international payments.  Don’t try to reach out to him on LinkedIn, though – he’s the “CFO of Hamas”. (WSJ)

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AUTHORDaniel Davies Insider Comment
  • Ja
    James Wharf
    8 January 2024

    Correction Request: "...hire is Ryan Voegeli, who comes in from CIBC to be head of investment banking + "CANADA".


    Barclays has two co-heads running their Corporate and Investment Banking.

    Barclays today announces that Taylor Wright and Cathal Deasy have been appointed Co-Heads of Investment Banking, effective 27 March.


    https://www.cib.barclays/news-and-events/Barclays-appoints-new-co-heads-of-Investment-Banking.html

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