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Foreign Banks in the US: NatWest reaches a higher plane

After helping to put NatWest Markets on the map in his native Australia, Peter Hall was planning in 1994 on retiring from the investment banking business. Then 45 years old, he intended to devote his time to other interests, including Buddhism, which he defines as the "science of mind and consciousness". Although unable to take the week-long silent retreats that the study of Buddhism requires, he believes understanding its tenets have helped him a great deal. Far from the ego-driven mentality that seems to drive most investment bankers, Buddhism calls for a type of detachment. "It's about having a calm and receptive state of mind," explains Hall, who says he meditates for an hour a day.

Whatever the source of his success, Hall was promoted in 1994 to head NatWest Markets in the US. There he engineered the purchase of two highly-respected, and profitable, US businesses ­ M&A boutique Gleacher & Co, and the fixed-income trading house of Greenwich Capital Markets ­ as part of the bank's strategic thrust into the top echelons of global investment banking.

Now Hall has been given another offer he says he couldn't refuse. This month he becomes president of NatWest Markets in London, part of a global reorganization that is bringing the Americans he has hired in the US to top global positions at NatWest Markets.

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