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CIBC streamlines business, cuts executive suite

Exteriors of the CIBC sign located on the sidewalk outside the bank's head offices at the corner of King St. West and Bay St. on Dec 29 2011.

Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has let go a group of senior corporate development executives, as the bank looks to cut costs by combining its merchant banking and corporate development groups under one roof.

CIBC was the only large Canadian bank with a stand-alone group doing merchant banking, taking direct stakes in companies that CIBC saw as good investments. The group's biggest win was likely its early stake in Global Crossing, a telecommunications company that sold for huge dollars during the technology bubble. However, since 2006, the current management at CIBC has scaled back the group's activities.

The merchant banking group will now be folded into the corporate development group, which houses the deal-makers who are charged with helping CIBC grow by acquisition.

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The changes were made "to better reflect the current scope of our strategic merchant banking activities and to align the broader strategy and corporate development organization to industry practice," Richard Nesbitt, head of the wholesale banking business at CIBC, said in an internal announcement.

Two of the departing staff have long histories in top jobs at the lender.

John Orr had previously headed CIBC's Caribbean operations before becoming executive vice president of corporate development and strategy. Ted Nash was head of mergers and acquisitions for CIBC's investment banking unit before becoming head of corporate development and strategic merchant banking. In that role, he was a point man for CIBC on the Maple Group takeover of TMX Group Inc.

Also departing is Shad Ansari, a vice president in corporate development who joined CIBC in late 2011 from Manulife Financial Corp.

The bank named Shawn Beber, who formerly reported to Mr. Nash, as interim leader of the new combined group.

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