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BANKING

Steven Black, Head of global equities, Salomon Smith Barney

Having spent his entire career at Smith Barney, Steven Black is no stranger to mergers and the blood on the floor they create. He cut his teeth on the 1992 merger of Shearson with Smith Barney, where he headed capital markets. In that position, after the merger, he took the axe to the fixed-income division.

"He's able to make very tough decisions," says Jamie Dimon, who at the time was the Shearson executive credited in the press for the cuts. "We had a pretty good yak [laugh] around here about that," says Dimon, chairman and CEO of Smith Barney before its recent merger with Salomon Brothers.

In the newly merged Salomon Smith Barney, where Dimon is now co-CEO with Salomon's Deryck Maughan, he chose Black for possibly the most difficult task. A member of the operating committee, Black has responsibility for global equities ­ where there's most overlap between the merged institutions. "He's one of the guys you give your toughest areas to," says Dimon, who calls Black "extraordinarily talented".

Black, who was vice-chairman and chief operating officer at Smith Barney, says of mergers: "What you hope happens is that you take the best of both and get rid of what's not so good about each one."

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