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RBS Takes Scalpel to ABN Amro Org Chart
Asset Backed Alert, Harrison Scott Publications Inc. (April 18, 2008)
Royal Bank of Scotland just laid off a number of securitization professionals from ABN Amro, finally moving forward with cuts that have been looming since it bought the Amsterdam institution's wholesale-banking division last year.
The terminated securitization specialists were among at least 25 fixed-income specialists cut loose from ABN's New York and Chicago offices last week. And more cuts are expected to follow in the next two or three months, as RBS begins combining ABN's operations with those of its own investment-banking arm, RBS Greenwich.
Topping the list of departing ABN staffers was U.S. asset-backed securities syndicate chief Neil McPherson, who is now looking for a job on the buyside. He had joined ABN's New York office in November 2004, after six years on the ABS-research team at Credit Suisse. McPherson rose to the top position on that desk in 2000, with Credit Suisse adding CDO research to his purview in 2002.
His exit from ABN leaves only Joe Wallace, who usually handles secondary-market business, to man what remains of the bank's asset-backed bond trading desk in the U.S. Wallace reports to financial-markets chief Denis McHugh, although that could change as RBS shuffles management duties going forward.
RBS also showed the door to many of ABN's bond-sales specialists, including Trevor Lange, Mark McAdams, John McShea, Tim Murphy, Michael Naher, Mike Primasing and Tom Warnock. They often pitched securitizations as part of a Chicago-based team of "generalists" led by John Koudounis, who still has his job as head of sales for taxable fixed-income products.
On the banking side, RBS dismissed managing director Sean Chen and assistant vice president Sahil Patel, both of whom originated and structured CDOs in Chicago. They answered to investment-grade capital-markets chief Bill Haley, who is stationed in New York.
Also under Haley's charge are a term asset-backed securities underwriting division headed by Brad Dansker in New York and a commercial-paper conduit team run by Robert Graff in Chicago. Haley's group, which also encompasses a unit that underwrites unsecured corporate bonds, has shrunk from a peak of 50 staffers to 38 since RBS entered the picture.
While Haley expects to stay on board at RBS as the bank completes its takeover of ABN later this year, his future role remains unclear.
Given his duties at ABN, he might fit in somewhere between RBS' John Anderson and Dan McGarvey. Anderson took over as RBS' sole head of U.S. securitization underwriting last month, when co-head Joe Walsh jumped to Fortress Investment. Anderson also oversees principal finance. As one of Anderson's lieutenants, McGarvey runs an 11-member team that underwrites term asset-backed issues in the States and securitizes clients' assets via conduits that RBS operates in London. That division will likely swallow Dansker's ABN unit, which is about half as big.
In London, RBS is expected to find some role for Steve Curry, ABN's head of asset-backed securities banking in Europe. Angela Capone, ABN's top ABS trader in the region, is rumored to be staying on board as well.
RBS also retained Ben Metcalf, who headed ABN's asset-backed securities syndicate desk in Europe - transferring the Australia native to a position on the bank's trading desk in Sydney.
RBS led a group, including Fortis Bank and Banco Santander, that purchased various components of ABN last October. RBS has been working to integrate most of ABN's securitization businesses with its own since then, but ran into a number of delays that stalled the process.
Walsh's resignation compounded the holdup, as the plan had been for him to take one of the more senior management roles in RBS' U.S. operation.