More than a year after NationsBank Corp. announced its megamerger with BankAmerica Corp., the combined company's wholesale division has finally established a chain of command.
During the last three weeks, a shakeout in the global and corporate investment bank has resulted in a new structure under president Michael J. Murray.
Bank sources estimate that about 80% of the integration is now complete. Remaining changes affect only the rank and file.
Unlike the troubled start Bank of America Corp. had last fall, this new restructuring has not resulted in bruised egos, mass defections, and rolling heads.
"There hasn't been severe disruption," said John C. Wilson, a San Francisco-based executive recruiter at Korn/Ferry International. "But people in the organization continue to refer to 'the East bank' and 'the West bank,' so it doesn't seem to be fully integrated."
The latest restructuring was meant to combine the strengths of both banks and replace the significant talent lost since the merger.
NationsBanc Montgomery chief Thomas W. Weisel left last fall to start his own firm, taking 100 employees with. With the recent round of employments, analysts say, the bank has gone a long way toward making up for that loss.
But the changes also hint at how the wholesale side of the bank-often seen as a stepchild of Bank of America's national consumer banking franchise-will be positioned under Mr. Murray's stewardship.
In effect, Mr. Murray is attempting to build a decentralized wholesale bank away from the Charlotte, N.C., headquarters, with a chain of regional outposts to provide corporate and investment banking.
With that strategy in mind, only two of the wholesale bank's three top executives-Mr. Murray, and capital markets chief Edward J. Brown 3d-will be based in the same city. That city will, somewhat surprisingly, be San Francisco, home of the former BankAmerica, and not Charlotte.
The third top executive, investment banking chief Carter McClelland, who formerly headed Deutsche Bank's U.S. investment banking arm, will be based in New York.
The next tier of managers, mainly business-line heads, will be scattered among offices in Dallas, Charlotte, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco.
Thomas W. Bunn, who is based in Charlotte, has been named head of global debt origination and structuring. Mr. Bunn will now oversee origination of high-yield bond debt in addition to his previous job as chief of syndicated lending.
The former head of high-yield origination, Robert Griffin, has been named to lead the financial sponsor group for Banc of America Securities in Chicago, the bank's investment banking subsidiary.
Though Mr. Murray declined to be interviewed for this story, bank spokesman Robert Wynne acknowledged that the corporate bank would now take a regional approach.
"We want to be strong in all of these areas," Mr. Wynne said. "The idea is to maintain our presence with strong points in these regions. We want a coast-to-coast franchise."
So far, the response to the reorganization has been positive.
"They are making good progress," said Ronald L. Mandle, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein in New York. Mr. Murray is performing "a real recasting of a niche investment banking firm to a more broadly focused business."
Mr. Mandle said he believes the new management has changed the character of the combined wholesale bank. But, he cautioned, it may be too soon to tell.
"They picked the key corporate relationship people, and they've decided what they're doing internationally is being much more of a distributor and less of a holder" of debt products, he added.
Clearly, how well the integration succeeds is of concern to Mr. Murray, who has declined interviews since Mr. Weisel's departure last year.
Colleagues say Mr. Murray, as one of just a handful of BankAmerica executives remaining in the merged bank's senior management, is conscious that even a minor snafu could incite the wrath of chief executive officer Hugh McColl Jr.
Mr. Murray is "under a tremendous amount of pressure," Korn/Ferry's Mr. Wilson said. "There has been a lot of attention on him."
It was, after all, Mr. McColl who sent board member W.W. "Hootie" Johnson to ask for the resignation of BankAmerica CEO David S. Coulter after the bank's relationship with D.E. Shaw & Co. soured last fall.
Mr. Murray "is being very careful-and should be," said a colleague. "Otherwise you might have someone called 'Hootie' come and fire you."