Deutsche's metamorphosis
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Deutsche's metamorphosis

Not long ago Deutsche Bank was reckoned among the dullest, slowest moving and most parochial of European universal banks. Trammelled by its corporate shareholdings, anxious about the conflicts between the equity business and traditional banking services and baffled by new risk management tools, Deutsche looked an also-ran. US institutions were invading its backyard. The large UK players were building high-profile investment banking arms and even the French and Dutch were moving faster.

How the tables have been turned. Martin Taylor's resignation as chief executive of Barclays will be seen by many as the end of UK institutions' foray into investment banking. The ambitions of ING and ABN Amro have been curtailed not just by the crisis in emerging markets but also by their lack of centralization and inability to manage investment bankers. The French are nowhere.

Deutsche, though, has been transformed. The acquisition of Morgan Grenfell, the creation and then reassimilation of the DMG investment banking operation and now the proposed purchase of Bankers Trust have created one of only three serious global players with European roots.

Market response to the Bankers deal has been negative. But Bankers Trust has reinvented itself so many times that few people understand what it does.

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