Banc of America Securities, seeking to round out the investment banking and capital markets services it provides to fellow financial companies, plans to announce today that it has hired three senior executives for its financial institutions practice from Merrill Lynch.
"Financial institutions have been one of the largest users of the capital markets, and we want to be a top" underwriter and adviser to them, said Andrew Cooley, head of the global credit fixed-income capital markets group, which includes financial institutions coverage.
Eric Wilson, the former co-head of debt capital markets for financial institutions and real estate investment trusts at Merrill Lynch, has taken over as managing director and head of the debt capital markets group for global financial institutions at the Bank of America Corp. unit. Reporting to him as a principal in the same group is Rock Fu, previously a director with Mr. Wilson at Merrill.
In investment banking, Michael White joins as a principal focusing on insurance companies, particularly insurance electronic commerce. He also came from Merrill, where he was a vice president in that firm's financial institutions practice. He reports to the co-heads of the insurance, corporate, and investment banking group, George Johns and Tony Ursano.
By hiring Mr. Wilson and Mr. Fu, Bank of America is taking on a pair of senior bankers who have worked on some of the biggest debt offerings in banking and insurance, including a $1.4 billion senior note offering for Aetna Inc., which Merrill lead-managed.
Mr. Wilson and Mr. Fu had reported to Mr. Cooley when he was the head of global financial institutions global debt capital markets at Merrill, which he left in 1996 to join what was then NationsBank to head all high-grade debt origination
The pair's experience and ties with financial institutions should help increase the volume of debt Bank of America underwrites for financial institutions, Mr. Cooley said.
"Issuers tend to go back to the people they've had experience with," he said.
Investment-grade corporate and institutional debt underwriting, excluding issues for government agencies, has been one of the strong areas for Banc of America Securities as it builds up its capital markets business, even as lucrative business lines such as high-yield have been slower to grow. Last year it was the eighth-largest underwriter of investment-grade corporate and institutional debt, according to Thomson Financial Securities Data.
"We have as much information as anyone because we've been lenders [to financial institutions], and our capital and models are good," said Mr. Cooley. Now, "it's coming up with best client team."
As Banc of America expands its capital markets business, it has had to do some shuffling. The former managing director of fixed income for financial institutions, Michael Wheeler, has moved to head derivatives for financial institutions and other industries. James Kelligrew, former head of fixed-income sales and trading, has taken on origination responsibilities and is now co-head of the global high-grade business with Mr. Cooley.
Mr. White's addition in investment banking is also in line with a build-out strategy the bank is pursuing. Carter McClelland, head of the client-driven part of the investment bank, has said he will add as many as 100 bankers this year to strengthen its ranks in advisory and industry coverage.