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RBC Remains Among Those Banks Committed To Lower Manhattan Post 9-11

During a month when New Yorkers are acutely remembering the attacks of September 11, 2001 and its impact on the Wall Street area's business population, it's interesting to hear a Canadian bank assert its allegiance to the downtown financial district-even one as prodigious as the capital markets arm of the Royal Bank of Canada.

"Long the capital of U.S. commerce, lower Manhattan experienced a flight of banks and other businesses from the area after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, which left a gaping wound where a cluster of major office towers once stood," Canada's Globe and Mail writes.

Still, some businesses are now moving to or recommitting to Wall Street.

Goldman Sachs has an expansive new headquarters just north of Ground Zero, for instance. And earlier this year, RBC Capital Markets recommitted to the downtown location by renewing a lease for 112,597 square feet.

In fact, RBC's presence in the financial district has expanded from about 450 people when the planes hit the World Trade Center towers to a total of 2,700 people today.The company has built one of Wall Street's largest trading floors, at 72,000 square feet, in its World Financial Center location.

For many Canadian banks-and particularly for RBC-the U.S. financial crisis came as an opportunity. Poaching from major banks helped RBC's capital markets staff to increase some 24 percent since 2008, according to a report last May.

Mark Standish, co-chief executive of RBC Capital Markets, now says the bank sees its commitment to downtown New York as part of a strategy to maintain visibility in the U.S. market.

"Downtown New York is a nexus of financial institutions and major companies," Mr. Standish told The Globe and Mail. "As a global investment bank, we consider it essential to be on the map and have a significant footprint here."

Of course, RBC has continued to expand the size of its U.S.-based groups. Since January of last year, RBC Capital Markets' U.S. I-banking group has added here over 145 professionals as expanded or added industry-focused investment banking groups, pushing its U.S. banker headcount to over 350.

During the first two quarters of this year, the bank earned $805 million in investment bank fees, Thomson Reuters said-a 32 percent increase from the year-earlier period (whereas the bank's overall third-quarter earnings were impacted by losses related to the sale of RBC's U.S. retail operation, Capital Markets net income was $277 million, up $76 million from the year-ago period.

Now ranked 11th in fees among investment banks globally, RBC wants to crack the top 10. Some of that growth, assuming it occurs, will take place in the Wall Street community, which remains a staple for some firms.

Although Japanese bank Nomura Securities Co. Ltd. is leaving Wall Street for midtown Manhattan and accounting giant Deloitte & Touche is doing likewise, the NYSE and the New York Mercantile Exchange remain, and this summer, Oppenheimer & Co. announced it would consolidate its New York operations at Goldman's former headquarters on Broad Street.

AUTHORJanet Aschkenasy Insider Comment

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