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Merrill, Jefferies, RBC scoop up ex-Bear staffers

- Dozens of former Bear Stearns employees are popping up at rival firms now that the so-called "gardening leave" period has ended.

"Gardening leave" is industry parlance for people who are not free to begin work or even disclose their new jobs for a contractual period of time, usually 90 days.

Three months ago JPMorgan Chase & Co completed its fire-sale takeover of Bear Stearns, which collapsed in March as the credit crunch fuelled worries about the smaller bank's ability to survive. More than half of Bear's 14,000 employees were laid off.

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With that period expiring last week, Royal Bank of Canada, Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. and Jefferies Group Inc. all announced their hires of Bear employees Tuesday.

Most are based in Europe and involve individuals who never went to work for JPMorgan.

Jefferies, a U.S investment bank focused on middle market companies, said its U.K.-based international division hired 25 Bear Stearns equity sales, trading and research staff to boost its global equities business in London and Frankfurt.

Among those joining are Andrew Shortland as head of international equities, Hamish MacLellan as head of international sales and Omar Saad to run international equity trading.

RBC Capital Markets, the investment banking arm of Royal Bank of Canada, hired 11 bankers from Bear to form a new institutional equity sales and trading team that will be based in London and Switzerland.

A more serious blow to JPMorgan was landed by Merrill Lynch, which hired Michael Nierenberg as global head of mortgages and securitized products. Mr. Nierenberg, one of a handful of Bear executives hired by JP Morgan earlier this year, had been head of global securitized products.

Mr. Nierenberg had joined Bear Stearns in 1994 after seven years at Lehman Brothers.

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JPMorgan declined to comment on the employee moves.

Reuters

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