Is Murray Roos saying something about equities jobs at Citi?

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Citi's European equities sales and trading business has been in a state of flux. Will Murray Roos be the man to bring stability?

Roos's arrival from Deutsche was reported last week. Formerly co-head of European equities at Deutsche, Roos is joining Citi as global head of sales for equities and prime finance.

Senior London-based equities headhunters suggest Roo's appointment looks, 'unusual.'

"Roos is a trader," says one, speaking on condition of anonymity. "He's a very, very, very smart trading guy. He's great with product and he's a good internal organiser. He's less of a schmoozy-client person, so it's strange that Citi's put him in a client-facing role."

Privately, headhunters suggest that Roos might one day be a replacement for Derek Bandeen, Citi's London-based global head of equities.

Citi declined to comment, although insiders stressed that Roos's role extends beyond just equities to include investor services and prime finance and that he's been hired as much for his ability to build market share with hedge fund clients as for his equities background. He will report to Bandeen, Okan Pekin (head of investor services) and Jim O'Donnell (head of investor sales). “This hire reflects Citi’s commitment to attracting the industry’s top talent as well as our focus on growing Citi’s equities franchise through a close partnership with our Investor Service colleagues,” said Bandeen in the announcement accompanying Roos's appointment..

Bandeen has been head of Citi's equities business for seven years. He joined from Morgan Stanley in July 2008 and went on a hiring spree. Figures for FCA Registered employees at 'Citigroup Global Markets Equity Limited' (provided courtesy of corporate finance boutique IMAS) show Citi's registered headcount of London equity staff went from 143 in November 2008 to a peak of 297 in February 2012.

Since then, Citi's European equities headcount has declined, with various senior departures in 2013 and 2014.  Nonetheless, registered headcount at the London equities business now stands at 246 - 72% higher than when Bandeen arrived.

There have been indications that Citi is unhappy with the performance of its London-based business. In January, CFO John Gerspach made disparaging comments about the performance of the EMEA equities unit in the fourth quarter and Yonatan Gozdanker, Citi's former head of EMEA cash equities trading, subsequently left the bank. Nonetheless, revenues in Citi's equities business fell by a further 1% in the first quarter.

It's possible that Roos may simply settle into his new sales and prime finance role. However, headhunters remain skeptical. "Roos is very strong - very punchy and he's been sold into that [head of equities] job," says one. In the short term, Roos may seek to strengthen Citi's equities business with some hires from Deutsche, he adds.

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