Poll of Polls 1998: Warburg's excellently average performance
Don't knock it. Warburg Dillon Read, the investment banking arm of UBS, comes out the clear winner in this January's poll of polls. Its virtue is consistency and coverage world-wide. While the US houses have their strengths at home, not one can consistently outperform WDR in every market. WDR may have benefited from the effects of the merger on poll results. But that doesn't detract from its commanding position in every major category: underwriting, trading and advising. It's only major weakness is mergers and acquisitions. Merrill Lynch, last year's number one, is let down by results in Euro-commercial paper, foreign exchange and risk management. Deutsche Bank continues to rise overall, but its weaknesses are equity research, Asian equity and advisory. Citigroup with its Salomon addition looks good on paper, but its low-scoring departments are Eurobonds, equities, and credit and equity research. Last year's second half shuffled the pack and we look forward to a wildly different pecking order next January. David Shirreff reports.
It was a traumatic year for UBS, culminating in the departure of its chief executive and three senior managers. But in investment banking the sum of the two big Swiss banks, puts Warburg Dillon Read (WDR), the investment banking arm of UBS, top of its peer group, on aggregate.
Diversity is the key. "We always were the consistent number two," says Manfred Schepers, global head of debt capital markets at WDR. He accepts that in the Deutschmark and Ecu, or sterling fixed-income trading markets, where respectively Deutsche, Paribas and Barclays may be number one, "but in aggregate our franchises are much broader, and can provide a more diverse product base".
With the advent of the euro WDR has "critical mass" and expects to be a "decisive player" in euros as it already is in dollars, Swiss francs and sterling, says Schepers. The big challenge: "Is our dollar presence, in addition to our position in euros, sterling and Swiss francs, going to give us a leading edge over the US bulge bracket firms globally?" He anticipates the US houses won't have comparable distribution in euro securities.