Ebb & Flow

Echoing a trend seen on the company side, banks both big and small continue to search for the headcount sweetspot in the midst of the bear market. Last week's choppers included merchant banker Thomas Weisel and Banc of America.

Weisel quietly let go 100 employees, reducing its headcount to 500. The cuts come a little more than a month after the firm agreed to pay a $12.5 million fine to settle claims made by state and federal regulators that it misled investors with stock recommendations to win investment banking business. Weisel was the remaining holdout of the 12 Wall Street firms that U.S. regulators originally targeted.

The good news for biotech is that aside from a junior analyst on the medical devices side, insiders say the firm's biotech bankers and analysts were unaffected.

Meanwhile, Banc of America Securities joined the parade of institutions making cuts in Europe, closing its research, trading and equity sales operations in London. The cutbacks of 100 jobs include Karl Keegan, head of European biotechnology research, and biotech analyst Mike Booth. BofA Securities, which has about 2,500 employees in Europe, will continue its London-based U.S. equity sales business and will cover some European equities from the U.S.

The London cutbacks follow the paring of healthcare teams at Deutsche Bank and West LB Panmure (see BioCentury, March 17).

Big money trickles out

Anglo-German company Cellzome last week closed the largest biotech venture capital round in Europe this year, raising E30 million ($32.2 million) in a series C round led by Invesco Private Capital. The

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