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Identity crisis hits party-crashing dealers

Glenn Grossman doesn't have a lot of good words for banking consolidation. "Each year the party gets better and attendance improves, and each year we raise less money," he says.

Grossman founded New York's annual Emerging Markets Benefit for Children's Charities after attending a similar ball in London. From his position as an executive at Cantor Fitzgerald, he persuaded six banks to pony up $50,000 each as underwriters, and another four to part with $25,000 as sponsors. The evening ended up raising some $700,000.

This year, the number of underwriters and sponsors had dwindled to four: JP Morgan, Deutsche, BNP Paribas and ING Barings. The total amount raised, despite a record number of tables sold at $10,000 each, was $490,000.

But as the amount raised falls, the importance of the event in the emerging-markets calendar increases. "In previous years, there were bank-sponsored Christmas parties, but they no longer exist," says co-chair Mary Moglia, of BNP Paribas. "It's the only time when bank clients, investor clients, broker-dealers and inter-dealer brokers all show up to the same place."

The resultant mingling drowned out the charity auction, in which the buy side proved itself much more willing to part with personal money than the sell side was.

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