The Great Debate UK

Commerzbank acts fast to bury Kleinwort

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alex-smith– Alexander Smith is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Dresdner Bank spent 15 years tinkering with the investment banking operations of Kleinwort Benson, the UK merchant bank it bought in 1995.

The German bank first expanded the unit, buying an expensive U.S. boutique, then mulled the idea of merging it with another bank, and finally contemplated spinning it off to management. But all these plans came to nothing.

Commerzbank has been more decisive. Having taken control, it has already moved to close most of Kleinwort’s London equities operations, and the whole of its Japanese presence. Around a third of the 3,600 London employees of the combined firm are going. The Dresdner name is being dropped and the historic Kleinwort one is likely to follow.

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