Underscoring the seriousness of its efforts to build a capital markets business, Bank of Boston Corp. has hired James P. Borden away from Chase Manhattan Corp. to be a managing director of global foreign exchange.
Mr. Borden, 55, is widely viewed as one of the top ranking experts in foreign exchange.
"What this says is that they are absolutely serious about building their institutional business and that they've hired the right person to do it," said Sally Pope Davis, a bank analyst at Goldman, Sachs & Co.
Henry C. Dickson, with Smith Barney, agreed. "They're obviously not the biggest in corporate banking but they are moving up in the league tables and positioning themselves to be competitive," he said.
Bank of Boston Corp., which recently solidified its retail and middle market banking base by acquiring BayBanks Inc., has been turning its attention to capital markets activities, including high-yield debt trading and underwriting.
"They've very big on building the trading and institutional side of their business," Ms. Davis said.
As part of this drive, the $63 billion-asset bank recently applied to the Federal Reserve Board for approval to set up a Section 20 investment banking unit, which would enable the bank to engage in limited public debt and equity underwriting.
Analysts noted that foreign exchange trading has traditionally been dominated by large money-center banks, followed by a string of second-tier players like Bank of Boston. The bank employs 32 people in its foreign exchange unit, half in trading and half in sales.
In an interview, Mr. Borden said his immediate efforts will be directed to drafting a plan for Bank of Boston's objectives in foreign exchange trading and linking foreign exchange to the bank's other activities.
"Bank of Boston has a good existing technical platform, a national and international presence, and we want to move forward in a market that's going through change," Mr. Borden said.
He added that he had no ambitions to turn Bank of Boston into a market maker in foreign exchange, but that currency trading "can have a significant role and make a significant contribution to the bottom line."
"We're not looking for No. 1 rating but we certainly intend to be at the top end of our tier," Mr. Borden said.
At Bank of Boston, Mr. Borden will report to Brad Warner, group executive of global treasury.