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FleetBoston To Close Robertson Stephens

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NU Online News Service, July 15, 10 a.m. – FleetBoston Financial, Boston, says it is shutting down its investment banking operation, Robertson Stephens, after a bid by employees to buy the investment bank failed.

FleetBoston’s president and chief executive officer Chad Gifford announced in April that the bank had decided to exit several businesses, including investment banking, to focus on personal financial services and wholesale banking. The bank closed its student loan processing unit in June.

“In recent weeks, Fleet and the Robertson Stephens management group were unable to structure an agreement for an employee buyout of the firm,” says Eugene McQuade, vice chairman and chief financial officer. “As a result, we have decided a wind down is in the best interests of our shareholders.”

The bank today reported it lost $386 million, or 37 cents a share, in the second quarter, compared to a profit of $531 million, or 48 cents a share in the same period last year. In financial filings, the bank says the loss is partly a result of its exit from investment banking but also due to after-tax special charges, including loans to Argentina.

FleetBoston Financial has assets of $192 billion and more than 1,500 branches in the Northeast.