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Casual debate at RBS

What is it they say about good intentions? Royal Bank of Scotland invited Loan Ranger and colleagues to evening drinks last week with hopes of talking about its new streamlined strategy. But only a couple of beers in and the room was instead awash with debate.

Loan Ranger engaged a senior loans official on the prospects for his market, running the gamut from M&A deals to refinancings, and from filling the Russian void to project finance and infrastructure. Overall the banker seemed pretty positive about 2015, although not as wildly optimistic on M&A growth as some of the big bets thrown about at the recent LMA conference in London.

But his encouraging summary was immediately put out of joint by another senior banker, who while on the way out of the door paused to casually opine that bond business was going to leave loans for dust, as they had become too thinly priced and therefore unattractive for banks.

The loans official was visibly testy on this point.

“Typical bonds banker,” he complained. “Doesn’t realise where his business comes from.”

Loan Ranger naturally sympathised, peddling out well-worn epithets about loans being a core relationship business and bonds ancillary. The loans banker, somewhat consoled, soon made his own move to leave.

Which left Loan Ranger in a mind to investigate what other inspiring repartee was going on around the room.

Whereupon he found his colleague in hot debate with a senior banker over another tricky topic: How much do tracksuits hinder concentration? The banker was prepared to hold forth that wearing them made no difference, whereas the journalist was adamant that the degree of casualness in his attire on any given day was directly proportional to whether he filed copy on time.

Shellsuits are deadline-defying.

Evidently the subject was a passionate one – although both were wearing suits (of the non-shell kind) – and neither side was willing to give any ground to the other.

All of this left little time to ponder the streamlined strategy. But Loan Ranger left greatly heartened that the worlds of corporate banking and newsroom sartorial standards had been freshly invigorated. 

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