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People and Markets

Back to the office — but which one?

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Deutsche Bank’s recently announced policy on returning to the New York office in September fits what many bankers have been expecting for months and heralds a return to normality. But for a small subset of bankers who left offices in London for lockdown in March 2020, the end of restrictions will also mean a change of circumstances — and getting used to living in a new country.

Deutsche Bank has told its US investment bankers that they should plan to be back in the office by Labor Day, which falls on September 6. This is in line with what bankers in the Big Apple and elsewhere in the US have been expecting for months, although precise plans have been hard to come by.

Perhaps in an effort to undercut any grumbling from senior bankers, Deutsche pointed out that 92% of this year’s crop of summer interns had opted to come in to the office, in a “sign of how normalcy is returning to the cities,” though recent grads desperate to make a good impression at a bulge bracket bank are possibly not the most representative sample.

Across the pond in London, things are also beginning to return to normal, with one City lawyer recently complaining, for example, that lunch queues were making a comeback.

For some bankers, however, returning to the office will mean swapping Pret a Manger’s chicken caesar and bacon baguette for the genuine article on the banks of the Seine.

While they were comfortably working from leafy Surbiton or wherever they call home, their bosses were in talks with the ECB and national regulators in the EU about relocating them to the continent.

On Tuesday, GlobalCapital reported that NatWest is sending two SSA bond bankers to Paris this summer, including head of frequent borrower syndicate Kerr Finlayson. When they arrive in the office, they will be reunited with head of SSA DCM Damien Carde, who moved there in summer 2019, as part of the UK bank’s preparations for Brexit.

It may seem odd still to be preparing for something that officially happened almost 18 months ago but such is the convoluted nature of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Lockdowns and travel restrictions have resulted in a grace period until now, but the gradual relaxation of pandemic rules mean that it can’t last forever.


Douek to join Santander

The other big move revealed in the past week was Abraham Douek’s, to Santander, where he will lead debt capital markets coverage of financial institution and SSA clients starting on July 20.

GlobalCapital had reported in April that Douek had left Citi, the firm he had been with for about 11 years. He was most recently head of the firm’s Iberian FIG DCM coverage and also took care of some UK clients.

Santander has been building up its FIG desk in the past few years, having hired Conor Hennebry from Deutsche and Alexandra MacMahon from Citi in 2018.

“It’s a pretty aggressive fix they’re trying to do to their FIG team,” says a headhunter. “They have picked up some adults and are trying to move forward.”


Wellness economy

Elsewhere, Citi is seeking to capitalise on the fast expanding “wellness” economy with a new group combining its coverage of real healthcare companies with those that market fashionable therapies and supplements directly to consumers.

According to the non-profit Global Wellness Institute — whose figures on the size of the industry have been circulating at Citi — the largest portion of this market is made up of personal care, beauty and anti-aging products, with other segments including traditional and complementary medicine, mental wellness, weight loss products, gyms and spas.

Leading the charge for Citi is Chuck Adams, who was previously a Goldman Sachs partner and head of the firm’s Los Angeles office. He will be relocating to New York.

Also in New York, CLO manager First Eagle Alternative Credit has hired Nishil Mehta from Prospect Capital Management, while two more leveraged finance lawyers have left White & Case for Allen & Overy, following in the footsteps of Jake Mincemoyer.

In Europe, funding official Tobias Rischen is leaving BMW in Munich for a job at the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg.