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WestLB on the trail of an elephant

WestLB’s principal finance team has set itself the task of landing a trophy deal. So far it has had the full support of the state-owned German bank’s chairman and credit committee. Yet the profitability of the business remains unclear and some suspect its head, Robin Saunders, is concentrating on making a name for herself.

Sladden, Saunders and Gardner:
"We want to challenge assumptions"

In mid-October, WestLB sent the UK transport ministry a letter outlining a plan to buy Railtrack. Soon after, the letter was quoted on the front page of the Financial Times. "It was pretty amazing for all of us," says WestLB's Robin Saunders who apparently didn't think it was newsworthy. "I'd assumed that half a dozen other banks were doing the same thing," she says. "So the real surprise was that no-one else had been thinking about it."

Saunders, who is head of asset securitization and principal finance at the German bank, seems to have an unusual idea of what makes newspaper editors tick. The UK's privatized rail infrastructure company runs out of steam, a German state-owned bank offers to pick up the pieces and that's not news?

Lately, it seems, WestLB has been linked to every multi-billion asset disposal going.

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