Credit Suisse Moves to Block Jefferies Bid to Hire Bankers

  • Swiss bank says five bankers sought by Jefferies agree to stay
  • Credit Suisse says Moneypenny among those staying at the firm

Credit Suisse Group AG is seeking to thwart an attempt by Jefferies Group LLC to lure away a group of senior bankers.

Five of eight Credit Suisse bankers who had been in talks to join Jefferies have instead agreed to stay on, according to a spokeswoman for the Swiss lender. Those staying include Jonathan Moneypenny, said the representative, Nicole Sharp. Jefferies had agreed to hire Moneypenny as its global co-head of leveraged-finance capital markets, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.

A spokesman for Jefferies as well as Moneypenny didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

It’s the second time in less than a year that New York-based Jefferies has sought to poach a group of senior managers from Credit Suisse. Jefferies hired a team of Credit Suisse bankers in May to expand its investment-banking technology business. That resulted in a lawsuit by the Swiss firm against the bankers as well as sparking a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority case against Jefferies, according to court filings and people with knowledge of the matter. Credit Suisse’s Sharp confirmed there’s an ongoing Finra case, declining to comment further.

‘Deep Bench’

“We have a top-ranked leveraged-finance franchise with a deep bench of senior talent," Sharp said in an e-mailed statement. "We remain fully committed to our market-leading business.”

Jeb Slowik, who was picked to co-head leveraged-finance originations, will also remain at Zurich-based Credit Suisse. Moneypenny has spent more than two decades at Credit Suisse while Slowik has been there for 16 years.

The renewed effort to recruit and retain leveraged-finance specialists reflects a reversal in fortunes for both banks, which had cut back as weak demand for credit hobbled Wall Street firms. The rebound in markets helped Jefferies to quadruple its fourth-quarter profit as fixed-income revenue surged. For Credit Suisse, leveraged finance remains among the more important lines of business in the U.S. and it’s seeking to protect that position as the market recovers.

Three Moves

The three employees making the shift to Jefferies include Joseph Kieffer, who will head the U.S. part of the leveraged finance capital-markets division. John Bown, who will lead loan sales, and loan trader Brad Capadona are also moving, people familiar with the matter said. Reuters reported the moves on Tuesday.

Other bankers approached by Jefferies were in another unit of Credit Suisse, including Dean Decker, who’s part of the investment-banking team in real estate, gaming, leisure and lodging sectors. Decker is staying with the lender, Sharp said.

Jefferies, owned by Leucadia National Corp., has been shaking up management in almost all its major businesses -- bond and stock trading, investment banking and leveraged finance. In a recent client note, Jefferies Chief Executive Officer Rich Handler signaled the firm’s intent to bolster its operations by recruiting from other firms.

Employees must “recognize that sometimes remarkable talent becomes available and while at first it may appear threatening or career limiting in some short-sighted way, they fully embrace the concept that new smart A players combined with our existing smart A players is good for everyone,” Handler and Brian Friedman, chairman of the executive committee, said in the note from this week.

— With assistance by Laura J Keller

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