It is the City's way of drawing in the purse strings - keeping dinner expenses down to £7,000 a night.

The plea for restraint came direct from the New York headquarters of investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston and is one of the first cases of cost-cutting that is expected to spread through the City as fears of a slump in profits grow.

The dinners being slimmed down are those held in celebration of big corporate deals, such as takeovers or share sales, where it is more usually a case of no expense spared. They are held in some of the most exquisite London private dining rooms. The Savoy is a favourite for the traditionalists while the trendily up-market St Martin's in Covent Garden is a more recent favourite for the younger generation of deal doers.

City sources also say that it is not unusual for the biggest and most successful deals to be celebrated at secret loca tions all over the world, involving first class air travel for as many as 150 bankers, company executives and other advisers such as lawyers.

But, the big companies using CSFB as their advisers face rather plainer fare and may have to watch the cork remain firmly in the vintage port and brandy bottles.

"Given current market conditions, try to keep dinners below $10,000, particularly where no travel is involved," was the instruction e-mailed to all employees of CSFB by co-heads of investment banking Tony James and Chuck Ward. The memo was leaked to the Bloomberg newsagency.

CSFB refused to comment on the memo but rivals pointed out the price of these celebrations is usually covered by the hefty fees paid by the companies themselves to the investment bankers advising them. Rivals also said that CSFB had not in any case had any big flotations this year.

Yesterday CSFB admitted 350 jobs were to go from its 28,000-strong workforce.



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