Deutsche Bank to cease use of Alex. Brown name

Link to 200 years of business cut for `brand consistency'

October 04, 2001|By Bill Atkinson | Bill Atkinson,SUN STAFF

After being a fixture in Baltimore for more than two centuries, the Alex. Brown name will disappear next year.

Deutsche Bank AG, the German-based parent of Alex. Brown, said in a statement last night that the name would be dropped to "create greater brand consistency globally and to strengthen its corporate identity."

The announcement was made on the same day that Deutsche Bank made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange.

"I think it is an incredibly stupid move, but who knows," said A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard, a former chairman and chief executive of Alex. Brown, and now executive director of the Central Intelligence Agency. "Chances are, Alex. Brown means more in this country than Deutsche Bank does. A lot of the brokers won't react well to it."

Deutsche Bank said that the U.S. brokerage operation, Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown, will be renamed Deutsche Bank Securities in the first quarter of next year. The company's U.S. private banking business, Bankers Trust Private Banking, will be renamed Deutsche Bank Private Banking.

"Awareness of the Deutsche Bank brand has increased significantly in the U.S. over that last two years, and it is time we evolve to a truly global brand that will reflect our scale and scope," said Seth Waugh, chief executive officer of Deutsche Bank's corporate investment banking division in the Americas.

Mayo A. Shattuck III, who resigned as chairman of Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown last month but remains an adviser to the company, said he had not known of the change.

"Eventually we knew that the name would move on, but that when it did it would be a signal of success for the bank as a whole more than anything else," Shattuck said.

"You can't deny the fact that a single global brand name is more powerful to leverage off of," he said.

Shattuck said he did not believe Deutsche Bank will remove the Alex. Brown name from its downtown tower on South Street, and he said the name still might be used in a company division.

The Alex. Brown name has been inextricably linked to Baltimore.

Alex. Brown & Sons, as it was known throughout much of its history, was founded in 1800 as a linen-trading firm on Gay Street and took root in the city's history as it grew into an investment and brokerage house. The company helped finance such monumental undertakings as the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the city's first municipal water system and early electricity companies.

It was acquired by Bankers Trust Corp. in September 1997 for about $2.5 billion. Deutsche Bank bought Bankers Trust, including Alex. Brown, in June 1999 for more than $10 billion.

The Alex. Brown name managed to survive despite efforts by Deutsche Bank executives to kill it shortly before the merger was completed.

In May 1999, Shattuck met Deutsche Bank executives in London for the sole purpose of saving the Alex. Brown name. The meeting stretched for hours as Deutsche Bank executives insisted that it should be dropped in favor of Deutsche Bank's name.

Shattuck prevailed after warning the group that the move would result in loss of business and employees.

"If you want to take the responsibility for the defections of hundreds of employees and clients off my hands, I yield to you," Shattuck said in the meeting.

Since then, Deutsche Bank seemingly embraced the name. Last year, for instance, the company commemorated Alex. Brown's 200th birthday with a giant anniversary cake cut at the Inner Harbor. It offered free admission to museums and other local attractions. It paid for beautification projects downtown and sponsored OpSail 2000, in which more than a dozen tall-masted ships docked in Baltimore.

In an interview in May of last year, Rolf-E. Breuer, Deutsche Bank's chief executive officer, called Alex. Brown a "real jewel" with tremendous potential.

"It was just a great name," Krongard said. "Wherever you went, people had nothing but respect for it. We worked hard to protect that. You were proud to be associated with the name. Even people who weren't very familiar with it had a very positive feel for it."

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