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Kerr's People: Stephen West, Managing director and head of credit trading, SBC Warburg

Which house in the primary international fixed-income markets is capable of catching and overtaking Merrill Lynch? Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley? Certainly Goldman is going like a runaway train this year. Morgan Stanley on the other hand needed a bump-start. How about JP Morgan, the bank with class written all over it?

However, speak to any top Euromarket syndicate manager and they will say that all of the above have the potential, but that the leading contender is SBC Warburg. "SBC Warburg today is like CSFB in the 1980s," says a senior new issue trader.

Who has been responsible for the transformation of SBC Warburg from the laggard of the Big Three Swiss banks into the Swiss primary market leader? Within the bank there is total agreement that SBC itself was turned inside out (for the better) by O'Connor Associates, acquired in 1991, but that the renaissance of the fixed-income business was largely orchestrated by the "Two Steves" ­ Stephen West and Steven Oristaglio.

The once mercurial West may have calmed down a little from his wildest days but he defies the view that the current generation of top Euromarketeers are dull, mono-syllabic bean-counters. Stories of West's exploits and love of fun abound. Tales of a smashed Reuters monitor ­ he didn't actually throw it at a colleague ­ are part of Euromarket folklore, but sadly it's not true that he deliberately crashed his very expensive company car into the underground car park wall one year when he was dissatisfied with his bonus ­ Paribas did not supply such luxuries.

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