CHAPTER 4 Masters of the Market 1979–1984

The subject of Michael von Clemm has always evoked mixed responses. ‘A visionary of the Euromarkets … he built (the FRN) into the largest single component of the international bond markets. He did so almost single-handedly, and, in von Clemm fashion, totally single-mindedly. Banks, power companies, governments: all received the famous von Clemm visit: the compelling sales talk, the piercing eyes, transfixing issuers in the remotest parts of the world.’1 ‘He impressed most of the bankers and borrowers he encountered, with his intellect, his powerful personality and the breadth of his interests.’2 Others describe him as ‘vain, aggressive, arrogant and autocratic’, browbeating borrowers into awarding CSFB mandates.3 His three-year tenure as Chairman and Chief Executive of CSFB was characterised by great creativity, considerable risk-taking and continuous internal strife. One of his managing directors at the time felt ‘Von Clemm's management style changed the character of the bank. In the 1970s we’d had a good team spirit, but it stopped being an enjoyable place to work. You had to fight to get things done, and he liked to unsettle people.'4

If von Clemm felt people needed to be unsettled, then the hiring of Hans-Joerg Rudloff in early 1980 to run CSFB's syndicate department, would certainly do the trick.

With his new hire Von Clemm would revive the pre-priced issue concept that Rudloff had pioneered at Kidder Peabody and take it a step ...

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