June 4 1999 was a warm, sunny day in Frankfurt — perfect for the open-air party that Deutsche Bank was throwing in front of its twin-tower headquarters in the heart of Germany's financial capital.

Hundreds of staff gathered in front of a vast video screen beaming footage back and forth from New York. They swigged Miller beers, snacked on hamburgers and watched giant balloons rise into the sky.

The display of Americana was a celebration of Deutsche's US$10 billion ($14.9b) acquisition of Bankers Trust, a Wall Street institution that propelled Germany's biggest lender into the global big league.

Two decades

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