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Mercenaries return to base

Allen Wheat must sometimes wish he had never done his big merger. CSFB's chief executive officer was the driving force behind last year's acquisition of Donaldson, Lufkin&Jenrette, widely adjudged one of the least logical deals of the year.

Few can find a rationale for CSFB spending $13 billion on DLJ, a firm that would have sat much better with a less well established player. CSFB culled large numbers of staff in debt and equities, and has since watched several of the senior DLJ investment bankers it really wanted to keep decide to resign.

All leading investment banks will be struggling to keep costs down this year, in anticipation of leaner times as the US economy slows.

But last month Wheat had to stump up big bucks to keep one of the strongest teams from the old CSFB from decamping to Barclays Capital.

The decision of this 40-strong team first to quit and then to turn back to CSFB when it offered them more money is a grotesque episode even by the warped standards of investment bankers.

No doubt CSFB likes to think of its ability to keep the high-grade fixed-income executives as a success.

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