CIBC World Markets

CIBC World Markets is the investment banking arm of CIBC, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. CIBC is one of the “big five” retail banks in Canada and is the fifth largest in Canada by deposits. It is based in Toronto but also has operations in the United States, the Caribbean, Asia and the United Kingdom with 40,000 staff and eleven million customers. It is listed in the Forbes Global 2009 listing ranking at 159.

CIBC was the result of a merger of a number of Canadian banks particularly the Toronto based Canadian Bank of Commerce which had been founded in 1858. The name Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce was first used in 1875.

CIBC World Markets was founded in 1988 when CIBC bought the established stock broking firm Wood Gundy & Co, who had an investment banking arm of Wood Gundy Incorporated. At first the acquisition was simply renamed CIBC Wood Gundy, reflecting the large degree of independence granted to the old Wood Gundy, which was a leading Canadian brokerage that had been founded in 1905. In the 1990s the CIBC World Markets brand started to be used more often, particularly outside Canada. In the first decade of the twenty first century the investment banking arm was renamed CIBC World Markets to show its place within the CIBC group. The name CIBC Wood Gundy still survives as the name of CIBC’s Canadian retail stock brokerage.

In 1990 CIBC acquired much of Merrill Lynch’s Canadian business. The investment banking services were merged into the existing investment banking services. A similar event happened when CIBC purchased the US brokerage Oppenheimer & Co which also had a small investment banking group.

In 1995 CIBC bought the Argosy Group, a New York based investment bank that specialised in high yield debt, also known as junk bonds. This was a big departure as prior to the purchase of the Argosy Group CIBC had never done a junk bond deal. CIBC World Markets has from the outset played a large part in the larger CIBC group, supplying the Chief Executive Officer. In 2002 the head of CIBC and the head of CIBC World Markets both gave up their bonuses as CIBC World Markets had been blamed for producing the worst results that the CIBC group had ever suffered.

Despite the global ambitions that seem to be implied in the name CIBC World Markets focus mostly on Canada and the United States. Even in London, where most banks with an ambition to be international invest in a large presence, CIBC World Markets only has a small office.

In 2008 CIBC announced that a large part of its World Markets division would be sold to a company called Fahnestock. Previously Fahnestock had bought the Oppenheimer & Co brokerage business. This meant that a large part of the Oppenheimer & Co business was now reunited. This had followed a period of substantial retrenchment between 2001 and 2004 when CIBC World Markets lost two thirds of their staff.

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