Wave of senior defections hits Hambros

Hambros, the beleaguered merchant bank, has suffered a wave of defections by senior executives in the wake of its role as adviser to the aborted pounds 1bn bid for the Co-operative Wholesale Society.

Gerry Lynch, a director of the banking division in charge of project finance, acquisition finance, and banking syndication, left the bank last week. A number of other executives have also left.

The departures will revive fears over Hambros' long-term future as a corporate finance and banking group. Regent Pacific, the Hong Kong-based investment trust, has a 3.02 per cent stake in the group. It is dissatisfied with Hambros' performance, and a spokeswoman for the group said on Friday: "It is very disappointing that we have not seen any indication that they have made any effort to rescue the situation or come up with any solutions to their problems."

A spokesman for Hambros said: "People come and go the whole time." He said he could not comment on the reasons surrounding Mr Lynch's departure, except to say it had been entirely amicable.

Hambros advised Lanica Trust, the vehicle of entrepreneur Andrew Regan, who tabled a bid for the society. The bank has been criticised in a report by solicitors Norton Rose over the way the it dealt with confidential information obtained by Mr Regan from CWS.

Reputed to be on a substantial salary, Mr Lynch had joined Hambros from SBC Warburg - the bank where Peter Large, the corporate financier who bought CWS to Hambros, had also previously worked. Mr Large was subsequently sacked by Hambros along with Nigel Pantling and Andrew Salmon of the corporate finance division for their handling of the Regan bid.

Mr Lynch had been charged with raising the funding for the CWS deal and was mentioned in the context of possible further disciplinary action after the bank conceded it had overstepped the boundary of acceptable behaviour.

Mr Lynch said his departure was "entirely unconnected with the events or issues surrounding the CWS affair. I am bound by confidentiality, but I will say that my decision to leave had been taken well before CWS arose."

Mr Lynch has left to work on a temporary basis for Lansdowne Capital, a small firm that specialises in deals in the paper and packaging industry.

Ed Lavelle, a colleague of Mr Lynch, has left to become finance director of a healthcare business. Cornelia Tarr, a member of the debt advisory division, also departed last week to join Salomon Brothers.

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