Day in the Life: Gilles Collombin, Corporate Finance director

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Collombin joined HSBC in 1998 from NatWest Markets where he spent several years in the French investment banking team. Before that, he was with Coopers and Lybrand in Paris and started his career as a professor at the University of Ottawa in Ontario, while completing his PhD in Administration. Central to his current role is the creation of a strong, cohesive team following the $11 billion takeover of CCF by HSBC in mid-2000.

0515: Wake-up call, in time for the 0550 car to Heathrow. I live in West London, with my wife, Claire, and our two children - the right side of the city for access to the airport. Shaving in the car is not very convenient, but one gets used to it!

0620: Check in at Heathrow for the early flight to Paris. I run through my 'To Do' list waiting in the lounge.

0715: Board the flight - 30 minutes late as usual. I start reviewing a report I received yesterday from the accountants of a prospective purchaser of an engineering company that we are selling. I work from my laptop to avoid prying eyes. I have an 1100 meeting with our client and their accountants to discuss first reactions to the report. Not surprisingly, it doesn't tally with our client's own accountants' assessment.

0830 (0930 CET): Arrive in Paris just 15 minutes late, which is good news. I jump in a taxi to our Paris offices. My secretary calls to remind me about a 0930 conference call with Richard, a sell-side stockbroking analyst. We discuss the third draft of some preliminary research on expected market conditions for stocks in the engineering sector, where we are mandated to float a sizeable business next year.

With current market conditions, issuers are very nervous about floating companies. We undertake extensive analysis to assess the best timing to launch a deal.

1015: Still in taxi, as held up in traffic. I call a client for whom I did an IPO a few years ago to try yet again to set up an informal dinner. We finally agree on next Tuesday. Perfect timing as I'm meeting one of his competitors that afternoon, who would be keen to contemplate a deal with him at some stage.

1030: Finally arrive at the Paris office. I quickly download my emails from the network and take a another taxi to the 1100 client meeting.

1100: Spend two hours or so with the seller of the engineering firm and its accountants, reviewing the main issues and deciding what the accountants should do by the end of the week to be able to renter the negotiation room with well argued counter-proposals.

1330: Grab a sandwich on my way back to my office. Waiting on my desk is the final version of a pitch book we will deliver this afternoon to a large client in the retail sector. I check through it and then rehearse the presentation for an hour with Patrick Cazalaa, head of the consumer services group in London and co-head of the French team, and four other colleagues.

1500: Go live with the pitch, for a large IPO due next year. We know the client very well and expect to be awarded the mandate - but recognise that the competition is fierce for such a 'best in class' company.

1700: Back at my desk. The meeting went well and I call one of the shareholders to organise an informal lunch next week. Sixty-seven emails, of which 10 are relevant. I return a few phone calls, one of which is from Jean-Michel Prach, co-head of my French team and coverage banker in London, on a team management issue. Managing a staff of 27 is not hard when you have such good people working for you.

We are building one of the best corporate finance teams in Paris, following HSBC's takeover of CCF. The similarity in cultures between the two banks has been a great help.

I then spend a quiet hour reviewing a marked-up Share Purchase Agreement we expect to start negotiating face to face tomorrow, involving a company for sale in the telecom sector. The purchaser is a venture capitalist and as always very good at spotting the salient points. The negotiations promise to be tough - but that will be fun!

1830: Spend half an hour chatting to colleagues in the corridor. These informal get-togethers are key to the business of generating ideas. It is when you find out who is doing what and how things are going.

1900: Internal meeting with three colleagues working with me on 'Project Arizona'. We advise a company in the engineering sector which wants to divest one activity by merging it with a competitor. We recently signed an MOU (memorandum of understanding) to let the two management teams create a combined business plan.

This allows us to assess the viability of a merger for them and their shareholders. Tonight, we're reviewing all the information gathered on the competitor, so that we can debrief our client and prepare it for the presentation of the combined business plan in Germany next Thursday.

2015: Call home to London to wish my son happy 'birthday' (he is four months old today) and get all the news from my family. Unfortunately, I won't see them before Friday night as I'll be staying in Paris in the meantime - a fairly typical week - but we'll have fun together Saturday morning.

2030: Spend an hour working on two performance appraisals.

2130: Finish off call reports and upload them to the system.

2230: Rush back to my Paris hotel to catch last orders for room service. When I'm travelling, I always tend to work late.

In London, I prefer to get home by 2100. Even though I'm not there most of the week, my wife and I both love the city. It's a very good place to be with young children. I find people very open and relaxed and there's nothing better than having a drink in the pub with the team. London also has plenty of great places to eat, many of which are now even being copied in Paris...

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