Is there 'excessive obsolescence' at Lazard?

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Dick Bove appears to think so. Following the revelation that Lazard will be trimming MDs this year (whilst continuing to hire asset managers and senior bankers), US banking analyst Bove has come to the conclusion that Lazard is likely harbouring -

'a number of Directors... who thrived on Mr. Wasserstein's business and ideas. However, though very capable, these executives may not have been self starters and they may have been tied to a different operating format.'

According to KBW, Lazard hired 17 MDs between October 2008 and October 2009. A quick flick through the annals of hiring suggests it also hired plenty of people prior that. However, with the exception of a few exits to Morgan Stanley and RBS, comparatively few of Lazard's staff appeared to have been poached by rivals.

Does this suggest that Lazard bankers aren't rated by the rest of the market? Not at all, says one senior corporate finance headhunter. "It's a very good house, there are some exceptional people there," she says.

"However, it's quite a spectrum," she adds. "There are also quite a few people who basically don't earn very much money for the bank. But in my opinion, there are more of those kinds of people at Rothschild."

Lazard declined to comment on the number of MDs it plans to let go.

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