Yet another bank is tossing its hat into the high-yield ring.
BZW Securities Inc., the U.S. investment banking arm of Britain's Barclays Group PLC, recently tapped junk bond veteran Joseph Bencivenga to head its global high-yield and emerging capital markets corporate business.
The move is the first leg of a plan by BZW to build its leveraged finance effort, which already includes leveraged lending and advisory capabilities. The unit plans to add about 12 bankers to its high-yield bond group in the near future, said Callum McCarthy, chief executive of BZW's North American operations.
Most recently a managing director in BT Securities' high-yield originations group, Mr. Bencivenga, 38, did stints at Lehman Brothers Inc. and Salomon Brothers Inc. Early in his career Mr. Bencivenga was head of high-yield research at Drexel Burnham Lambert.
Mr. Bencivenga has "a very good reputation in the market," Mr. McCarthy said. "He's a man of wide experience and a good person to build up the team."
Mr. Bencivenga will be a managing director and report to Robert Morrice, global head of credit, and Thomas Kalaris, president of BZW Securities Inc.
BZW plans to bring issuers from Europe into the United States and tap Barclays' client base to develop a major presence in the European high- yield market.
Some observers wondered why BZW would choose to enter a market overflowing with underwriters. Others questioned BZW's commitment, saying it had been in and out of securities businesses while securities arms of other commercial banks have dug in their heels for the long haul.
But Mr. McCarthy maintained that "there's no lack of commitment" to leveraged finance.
"We have focused and more heavily committed to those businesses where we have real expertise and abilities to make a difference, and we have been successful," Mr. McCarthy said.