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Opinion

Now we can concentrate on the league…

The Euromoney investment banking champions league game table is taking shape, and after a bloody back and forth at the top, Citi has put daylight between itself and its nearest competitor, BNP Paribas.

The Leader Board as of March 28, 2007
Rank Team Score
1 Citigroup 64,220
2 BNP Paribas 58,625
3 ABN Amro 43,605
4 Barclays Capital 26,775
5 Deutsche Bank 18,620
6 Credit Suisse 14,215
7 Goldman Sachs 9,975
8 HSBC 9,105
9 Bear Stearns 8,545
10 Morgan Stanley 8,455
11 Lehman Brothers 8,445
12 UBS 8,430
13 Société Générale 8,215
14 Merrill Lynch 7,840
15 JPMorgan 7,270
16 RBS 6,950

The two banks had been neck and neck at the league’s pinnacle, trading first place faster than equities, or even property, but it will take a serious commitment to not getting any actual work done for BNP Paribas to overhaul its American rival now. ABN Amro looks secure in third place, too far back to challenge the leaders, and too far ahead of the rest. They play a beautiful game, the Dutch, but just don’t seem to have the quality in depth to mount a serious title challenge.

Curiously, a merger of the scores of Barclays and ABN would top the table – have Messrs Varley and Groenink been taking notes? Credit Suisse appears well placed but remains mired in the early-season match-fixing scandal that could still see it docked points. Early in the season, some players in the Credit Suisse uniform (rumours of undercover UBS agents are unconfirmed but not disproved) hacked into the system and boosted their own scores. Administrative officials note that they would have got away with it had they not been so greedy, but three individual scores of over 5,000 raised too many eyebrows.

Mid-table mediocrity beckons for the rest, including Lehman Brothers, which may disappoint their star player who heads the individual rankings.

Propping up the table is RBS, confirming everything anyone has ever said about Scottish football.

The story of the inaugural Euromoney investment banking champions league game season is far from over. Places are still up for grabs as banks chase Citi’s tail and the ultimate prize. Emotions are running high. Asked about his bank’s recent strong showing, one department head remarked: "I’m pissed off we’re scoring so high, the boys are obviously slacking off from the day job."

This particular banker obviously doesn’t read Time magazine. If he did he’d have seen the article by its widely respected economics columnist Justin Fox, crediting Euromoney with saving the global economy, no less. Apparently the market recovered its bearings thanks to the fact that so many traders were busy playing the game. Of course, Fox may just have been happy that he got to kick a ball at John Mack’s face.

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