Last month, Kendrick Wilson, a vice-chairman of Lazard Freres in New York and one of the firm's most senior bankers, left to join Goldman Sachs. Goldman now boasts the strongest line-up of all financial-institutions groups in the US. Wilson, and Goldman's head of FIG, Christopher Flowers, are the two biggest names in the M&A advisory business. Wilson worked on several of last year's tie-ups between commercial and investment banks and was also involved behind the scenes in one of the biggest deals that got away, representing American Express in talks with Citicorp
Some attribute Wilson's departure to exasperation with the politics of Lazard. When Felix Rohatyn left to become US ambassador to France last summer, it left a vacuum at the top of the firm in New York. Wilson was regarded as one of the candidates to move up and become deputy chief executive to Michel David-Weill. Instead, media investment banker Steven Rattner was promoted.
David-Weill has been beset by succession issues following the departure last year from the bank in France of his son-in-law and one-time heir-apparent, Edouard Stern. In the US, he caused some resentment among the firm's investment bankers by courting two well-known outside deal-makers, Robert Greenhill and Bruce Wasserstein, to come in to run the group.