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Opinion

Roman return to London

"I was 100% an old-timer at Deutsche," says Roman Schmidt. So it surprised everyone when DMG's Frankfurt debt syndicate head announced his departure from the Deutsche twin towers to join BZW.

Schmidt, who resigned two weeks before his sixth anniversary at Deutsche, wanted to return to London, where he had previously worked for CSFB ­ coincidentally the former employer of his new bosses, Bob Diamond and Robert Morrice.

Probably a more important link is with Abigail Hofman, BZW's head of global debt origination who had worked with Schmidt for five years before leaving DMG last summer. The new global head of syndicate will work with Hofman to build BZW's primary market business, perhaps using their Deutsche background to win that all-important first World Bank mandate.

Schmidt, who is one of the most respected syndicate managers in Europe, left only days after launching the biggest Deutschmark issue for an emerging market borrower ever, a Dm2 billion ($1.2 billion) issue for Russia.

He handed his resignation to stunned bosses at DMG the day after the issue was free to trade. They were shocked to discover that unlike most of his Frankfurt colleagues, who have notice periods of six months, Schmidt's was only six weeks. That's because he'd never been asked to update the contract he signed in 1991 when new contracts were being issued last year.

He is leaving a firm that is famed for its poaching and high salaries for one that is building a similar reputation. But according to Schmidt, who starts in May: "This was not about money. It was about a completely different job." Whereas at DMG he looked after its Frankfurt syndicate, BZW has given him a much wider brief, creating the global syndicate position for him.

BZW has been desperate to hire a top syndicate chief since Rob Jolliffe and Steve Hones left last summer. Those departures were partly because no such global syndicate position existed, because of a ridiculous split between sterling and non-sterling business. Jolliffe was lured to Goldman Sachs in Frankfurt, incidentally a job first offered to Schmidt.

Staff turnover at BZW still remains a concern, however. Only two days after the Schmidt announcement, one of Hofman's top originators, Jean Louis Ebelin, jumped ship to join his former boss, Yann Gindre, who was ousted by Hofman in August. Ebelin's decision to join Commerzbank is the most important of Gindre's hires from his old firm. In the past five months he has built his origination team from five marketers to 14. Steven Irvine

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