James Moore: So, happily ever after for JP and Caz?

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The Independent Online

Outlook It's been the longest of corporate courtships. The terribly traditional Cazenove has been cohabiting with JP Morgan in a joint venture for years, but only yesterday tied the knot.

With a £1bn price tag, there will be some substantial dowries for the bride's extended family, with Caz's éminence grise, David Mayhew, reportedly pocketing £19m to invest in his fly-fishing estate up north.

It's being done at a clever time, too. There will inevitably be some redundancies (although the numbers were played down yesterday) and a few who willingly leave the reception early because they find they are unhappy with their lot in the new organisation.

But while doors are always open for talent, for the most part competitors have shut up shop until the year-end numbers have been totted up. Not until January will hiring start in earnest, which provides a few weeks' grace for organising the furniture in the marital home and getting everything shipshape for when the neighbours come around to see what they can pinch.

This will probably prove to be a minor irritation, but long-term questions remain over whether the union will be a happy one. Nearly all Britain's brokers have succumbed to the advances of American or European suitors since the Big Bang in the 1980s, but it's rarely been "happily ever after".

JP Morgan itself can speak from bitter experience about this – it paid a fortune for Fleming, with decidedly mixed results.

To be fair, these two companies know each other well. When they moved in together there were many predictions of doom, but it worked, even if Caz's stuffy culture came as something of a shock to the joining JP Morganites more used to its American informality. (One amusingly said his pinstriped Caz colleagues reacted "as though I'd streaked naked across the office" when he dared to take his tie off).

Caz is still the broker of choice for much of the FTSE 100 and has been sufficiently reinvigorated that the departure of Mr Mayhew would serve as merely a painful blow rather than a life-threatening injury.

Its brand has arguably been enhanced in recent years, and the bride and groom have taken the modern route of putting their names together – it will be JP Morgan Cazenove now throughout the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. That is unless and until some new chief executive takes the reins and decides on a "single brand strategy" and other ego-driven changes that will inevitably lead to the divorce courts. But maybe JP Morgan has learnt from the mistakes of its competitors and of the past and will be able to make something of this union, with (in American speak) the powerful franchise that comes with it.