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Wall Street Raids RBS for Debt Traders as McEwan Shrinks Lender

April 22 (Bloomberg) -- Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc has lost at least six senior debt traders and salesmen in the past month to rival firms as the British lender shrinks its investment bank and faces political pressure to reduce bonuses.

John Gousias, a trader in London, left this month for HSBC Holdings Plc to help run its corporate-debt brokering business known as flow credit trading, Shani Halstead, an HSBC spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Cass Tokarski, who trades U.S. government-backed home-loan bonds known as collateralized mortgage obligations, will join Cantor Fitzgerald LP, while Alan Johannsen, who trades securities backed by assets other than mortgages, is taking a similar role at KGS-Alpha Capital Markets LP, according to people with knowledge of the moves, who asked not to be named because they haven’t been publicly announced.

RBS, which posted its largest annual loss since 2008 last year, is being weighed down by legal bills and risky assets that are still on its books five years after receiving the biggest bank bailout in history. Ross McEwan, who took over as chief executive officer in October, is combining divisions, scaling back the investment bank and cutting jobs.

The Edinburgh-based lender, which is planning to cut costs by 5 billion pounds ($8.4 billion) over the next four years, planned to pay employees 576 million pounds in bonuses for 2013, a 15 percent cut in the pool from the previous year. The payouts still prompted criticism from both U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and opposition lawmaker Chris Leslie.

Stamford Departure

Chris Wagner, a high-yield corporate debt salesman, left the firm’s Stamford, Connecticut, office to join Nomura Holdings Inc., said two people with knowledge of that move. Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch unit hired mortgage-bond salesmen Arin Chilcote, who worked in Chicago, and Matt Zisette, who was based in Manhattan Beach, California, as regional sales heads, another person said.

Sarah Lukashok, an RBS spokeswoman, declined to comment, as did Zisette. Gousias, Wagner and Chilcote didn’t respond to e-mails, texts or phone messages, while no phone numbers or e-mail addresses could be found for Tokarski or Johannsen.

Sheryl Lee, a spokeswoman for New York-based Cantor Fitzgerald, declined to comment, as did Zia Ahmed of Bank of America, Jonathan Hodgkinson at Nomura in New York and KGS general counsel Fred Krieger.

Gousias, Wagner and Tokarski were no longer registered as working at RBS this month, according to Financial Industry Regulatory Authority records. At HSBC, Gousias will be co-head of a trading unit focusing on bank bonds, indexes, options and exchange-traded funds, according to Halstead. He’ll report to Asif Godall, head of credit trading for Europe.

To contact the reporters on this story: Lisa Abramowicz in New York at; Jody Shenn in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Shannon D. Harrington at Caroline Salas Gage

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