The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookies before using this site.

All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2021 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.

Rabobank - Failed in London, try Frankfurt

Triple-A Dutch bank Rabobank wanted to build a flourishing international business in London. Things didn't go well, not least because the local staff were given too free a rein. A crackdown had to come. Now Rabo's taken a new tack, an alliance with Germany's DG Bank. It could be a fruitful match, but negotiations are protracted and the final arrangements far from settled. Laura Covill reports.

Bernd Thiemann

Not until the Grosvenor House ball was it obvious the end had come. Rabobank's London operation, particularly in equities, had been in trouble for months. The redundancies, hiring freezes and strategy reviews had begun in autumn 1998. Head of equities Marcus Grubb went shortly before Christmas, to be replaced by the man in charge of Dutch equities. Rampant overspending scuppered the Christmas party. Then Alex von Ungern-Sternberg, head of the investment-banking division, was thrown out too. His promise to turn a profit on equities after 12 months now seemed a bad joke.

The spring of 1999 brought a mysterious thaw. Management in Utrecht ordered bonuses to be paid out at once, even though they could have been paid in instalments over two or three years. A new investment-banking boss arrived from Citibank. In May, a huge ball was organized to celebrate belatedly the opening of the new trading floor. Hundreds of expectant staff turned up in black tie to meet their leader. Was this a new start?

It wasn't. The London branch manager kicked off with a misjudged joke about how Barclays had fired 6,000 people that day.

You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.


Unlimited access to and

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually


Unlimited access to and, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors


Already a user?

We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.
By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.
I agree