Departing from its traditional focus on corporate lending, Bank of Boston Corp. has hired a top trader in emerging-markets debt as part of a broader buildup of capital markets activities.
The $43.5 billion-asset bank said this week that it had hired Ignacio E. Sosa from Bankers Trust New York Corp. as managing director of its newly formed emerging-markets sales and trading group.
Mr. Sosa is one of several top ranking emerging-markets traders to recently leave Bankers Trust. Earlier this year, Neil Allen, head of the bank's emerging-markets unit, left with around 20 others to set up a similar unit at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Inc.
Bank of Boston, a latecomer to both the capital markets and emerging- markets underwriting and trading, last January set up a separate global capital markets unit under group executive Rusty Aertsen.
Mr. Aertsen, to whom Mr. Sosa will report, said the bank plans to underwrite and distribute debt in private placements under Rule 144a for Latin American corporate clients. The bank is also considering applying for section 20 corporate debt and underwriting powers under the Bank Holding Company Act, he said.
"We've been a substantial corporate lender for a long period of time and have relationships with companies across the U.S., Asia, and Latin America. We want to be able to offer them the alternatives that capital markets provide," Mr. Aertsen said.
Bank of Boston has the largest network of offices among American banks in Latin America, after Citicorp. It also has an extensive network in Asia as well.
Analysts said that given the bank's lengthy experience in Latin America and its extensive range of relationships, Bank of Boston is well positioned to deal in debt for Latin corporate customers.
"They have good relationships in Latin America and had the ability to originate, but not distribute deals," said Diane Glossman, a banking analyst with Salomon Brothers Inc. "As a result, they lost out on a certain amount of business because they didn't have a capital markets desk."
But Ms. Glossman stressed that unlike some big money-center banks who have made large scale moves into securities trading and underwriting, the Boston-based bank's capital markets entry is likely to be a limited one and mainly geared to serving Latin and U.S. middle market customers.
"I would characterize this as less broad a move than some of the bank's peers," Ms. Glossman said.
The Cuban-born Mr. Sosa, 39, originally worked for Bank of Boston between 1981 and 1986 in Mexico and Argentina, but left to join Bankers Trust. He helped found the New York money-center's emerging-markets trading operation.
Although emerging-markets debt suffered a severe drop in prices following a 50% devaluation of the Mexican peso in December, Mr. Sosa said current conditions offer an excellent opportunity.
"It's very similar to the situation that existed in 1989 and 1990 in the high yield market when relative prices were low," he said. "If you have an ability to understand the market and you have a local network, this is the time to come in."
Several other banks also moved this week to beef up their emerging- markets trading and underwriting operations.
Union Bank of Switzerland said Tuesday that it had hired seven executives to staff a new Latin American equity group at UBS Securities Inc. The unit will handle equity trading, corporate research, and sales. It will report to Lucia Skwarek, the managing director who heads the group.
And Chemical Banking Corp. said Wednesday that it had hired Daniel Canel from J.P. Morgan & Co. as senior managing director in charge of the bank's emerging-markets trading, sales, and research.
Susan Segal, a senior managing director who formerly oversaw emerging- markets trading, has been named head of a new emerging-markets investment banking unit that includes structured finance, corporate advisory and project finance.