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Abbey cleans out the cupboard

Bank restructuring

Stephen Hester

Abbey National's investment portfolio is to undergo a radical reshaping as the UK bank's new management attempts to clean up the group - with a view to a possible sale.

The move follows the final ousting of an old guard that had built Abbey National's wholesale banking operation into a vast - at one point highly profitable - asset/liability management operation, with an investment book that peaked at over £100 billion.

In mid-July Alex Braun, head of funding and asset management at the Abbey National Treasury Services division, and Paul Caldwell, head of asset-backed securities, left the bank. They were the two most senior figures to leave ANTS since the departure last October of Gareth Jones, the man who built up the operation and has since been made a scapegoat for the bank's problems.

Under their leadership Abbey had become a key investor in several fixed-income markets, in particular asset-backed securities and high-yield corporate bonds.

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