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UBS's US Barclays hires are causing some grumbling

After weeks of dawdling. UBS is getting its act together. Both Bloomberg and Credit Suisse insiders say that key Credit Suisse staff are now receiving retention packages to ensure they don't leave before the UBS acquisition is finalized. The retention packages are coming from Credit Suisse, but given that the new payments are reportedly comprised of cash and UBS shares, UBS presumably had something to do with them.

While UBS is pinpointing Credit Suisse people it wants to retain, though, it also raised eyebrows last week by recruiting Barclays bankers externally. Credit Suisse insiders say its choice of hires was more unusual than it seemed.

UBS's key recruit from Barclays last week was Marco Valla, who's joining as co-head of the global banking division globally, based out of New York. Valla began his career by spending eight years at Credit Suisse, followed by two years at Lehman Brothers and fourteen years at Barclays, where he was latterly global head of technology, media, telecommunications and consumer-retail teams. 

Valla will now be co-heading UBS's investment banking team and will therefore soon be managing the many Credit Suisse bankers, some of whom he worked with at the start of his career. However, disgruntled Credit Suisse bankers are pointing out that Valla was passed over for a similar role at Barclays, which instead hired itself a Credit Suisse banker - Cathal Deasy when it needed someone to run its global investment banking business earlier this year. 

The argument goes that Deasy was judged more able than Valla by Barclays, and so why has UBS - which now has access to numerous Credit Suisse bankers of a caliber similar to Deasy - decided to hire Valla when it could have chosen someone superior from among its own expanded ranks?

The grumbles also extend to Jeff Hinton, who was most recently co-head of the Americas mergers-and-acquisitions business at Barclays, and who joined UBS with Valla in a role that remains unclear. The presumption is that he'd like to be co-head of Americas M&A at UBS. But this would leave Steve Geller, Credit Suisse's current US-based co-head of M&A out on a limb.

Credit Suisse insiders claim their brethren are hard done by. Historically, their franchise was the larger of the two. "UBS is just about to close a deal with bankers who are far more accomplished than they are, and they turn around and hire from Barclays," says one. 

UBS may be sending a signal. Or it may be looking nearer term. In the first quarter of this year, neither it nor Credit Suisse ranked in the top 10 for US investment banking fees. Barclays, however, came 6th according to Dealogic.

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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