Salomon's global equity chief quits

CITIGROUP said yesterday that Steve Black, the global head of equities at Salomon Smith Barney, has quit in the latest fall-out from America's largest banking merger.

Mr Black's departure, which came despite several attempts by top people to dissuade him, followed last week's resignation of Citicorp president Jamie Dimon and the sidelining of Deryck Maughan, Salomon's banking head and one of the top-ranking Britons on Wall Street. Amid the turmoil, Citigroup yesterday announced a $2bn share buyback.

Feeling is running high among staff at Salomon's purpose-built European headquarters above Victoria Station in London, where Mr Dimon was well regarded. The European co-chief executive, Jim Boshart, was yesterday reassuring colleagues that he was staying after rumours that he was also quitting swept the firm.

The pressure is now on the new co-heads, Victor Menezes and British-born ex-Kidder Peabody trader Michael Carpenter, to act swiftly to curb the threat of mass defections, insiders said yesterday.

Old Salomon hands are questioning whether the two top men at Citigroup, Sandy Weill and John Reed, have the stomach for investment banking.

Salomon insiders say the unrest has been triggered by Mr Weill's attempts to force the pace of integration between Citicorp's corporate lending business and Salomon's investment bank.

Mr Weill, whose background is in retail financial services, is adamant the promised benefits from cross-selling will be achieved. He insisted last week that the management shake-up was justified.

Meanwhile, JP Morgan yesterday confirmed it is seeking to shed around 740 people, 5 per cent of staff, before year-end. Most cuts, which follow a 61 per cent drop in third-quarter income, will be in fixed-income and emerging markets.

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