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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Barclays Fires 5 Bankers For $63,000 Night Out

LONDON -- Perhaps it was the bottle of 1947 Chateau Petrus for 12,300 British pounds. Or maybe it was the 1945 vintage from the same vineyard for 11,600 British pounds ($16,500).

During dinner at a fashionable restaurant in London, six investment bankers lapped up 44,000 pounds in fine wines, and now they are suffering from a huge hangover.

Their employer, Barclays Capital, has fired all but one of the bankers since the dinner last July at Petrus, a restaurant in London named for the vineyards that produced the wine.

Initially the bankers, who paid the bill with their own money, received only a slap on the wrist for having spent so lavishly -- and having been documented doing so in newspapers at the time -- while Barclays, like other banks here, was trying to project a new sobriety as an antidote to the excesses of the 1990s.

But when some of the bankers secretly tried to pass off their part of the bill as client expenses, Barclays began firing them one by one. The firings were reported Sunday in London newspapers.

Even by the standards of the last decade, such a bar bill would have been considered shocking, bankers in London said. But given the stark backdrop of shrinking fees and mounting layoffs, running up such a bill was brazen, they said.

"Even by New York standards, it's extravagant," said a banker, who has worked in London and New York, but declined to be named.

The extravagance occurred as banks were instituting what some complain are draconian measures, requiring employees to fly economy class on business trips and limiting the amount spent on entertaining clients -- sometimes to as little as $140 -- as business suffers one of its worst slumps in two decades.

More layoffs are expected. Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank are among the major banks considering additional cuts, people close to the companies said. That would be in addition to some 40,000 banking jobs that have been eliminated worldwide since the economy started to soften a year ago.

Global mergers and acquisitions are down sharply, with 2,879 announced deals so far this year, worth a total of $119 billion. That compares with 4,992 announced deals for $267 billion in the first two months of 2001, according to Thomson Financial.

Initial offerings also have stagnated, with banks underwriting just nine share sales in the United States in the first two months of 2002, compared with 81 in the same period of 1996.

"It's bleak and getting bleaker," said Richard Peterson, a market strategist with Thomson Financial.

None of these concerns apparently crossed the minds of the Barclays bankers, most of whom worked in equity derivatives, as they sat down last summer to celebrate a deal.

The party comprised Dayanandra Kumar, Mahish Chandra and Iftikhar Hyder from the London office; Ruth Cove from the bank's office in New York; and two others who have not been identified. Hyder, who was relatively new to the bank and who told his superiors about the dinner almost immediately, was the only one to retain his job. None of the bankers could be reached for comment. Barclays declined to discuss the matter.