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A tale of two US ECM houses

Equity capital markets moves at Citi and BAML say more about the two firms than they do about ECM.


Here’s an odd little scene. A bank with a European equity capital markets franchise that has just had one of its best years moves the head up to a chairman role. But it replaces him with a head from another bank, one whose franchise has been struggling to the point of embarrassment.

It’s not a dynamic you see often, but it has just happened between Citi and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Ken Robins, who joined Citi in 2009 and has been a part of the resurgence of that bank’s European ECM business, will be chairman. The move will suit him well, and is now fairly commonplace especially as global ECM heads are becoming a rarity.

Replacing him is James Fleming, who has quit as EMEA co-head of ECM at BAML and will be co-head alongside Valery Barrier, Citi’s existing head of France, Switzerland and Benelux. 

What makes it intriguing is that it comes as the two franchises seem to be moving in opposite directions. What’s going on tells us as much about the two firms as a whole as it does about ECM.

Aggressive approach?

Citi has had a mixed history in European ECM, for years never really cracking the top tier.

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