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Comment: Rethink of strategy for SBC Warburg

What to make of SBC Warburg's acquisition of Dillon Read in the US? Well, for starters it creates a very long name. The new bank is to be rechristened SBC Warburg Dillon Read. Too much of a mouthful? How about SBCWDR then? If that sounds more like a radio station or advertising agency than an investment bank, tough.

The acquisition is also a bit of a reversal in strategy on at least two fronts. Only recently the bank said it wasn't interested in big bolt-on acquisitions in the US. Furthermore, the idea under George Fieger, a McKinsey wonderkid, was to get away from old style relationship investment banking and restructure along sales and product lines. Dillon Read is very much a relationship corporate finance house, and it seems probable that its chief operating officer, Franklin Hobbs, will re-establish that approach at SBC Warburg once he takes over as "global" head of corporate finance.

But no matter. This is corporate finance and today's new idea is tomorrow's old one. The opportunity to buy Dillon Read came up and Warburgs would have been silly to turn it down. The acquisition will leave the bank well placed to go for one of the really big fish on Wall Street should the market eventually crash.