When Smith Barney Inc. chairman Robert Greenhill sat down three weeks ago to negotiate job offers for some of the investment bankers who were quitting Salomon Brothers Inc., his goal of creating a world-class financial institutions group must have seemed within reach.

Today, Mr. Greenhill and Smith Barney are on the sidelines watching as the former Salomon players revel in their first deal, the $1.6 billion merger agreement between West One Bancorp and U.S. Bancorp.

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