Livia S. Asher, a former banking industry analyst for Merrill Lynch & Co., recently joined Allianz of America Inc., Westport, Conn.

Allianz of America is the holding company for the U.S. subsidiaries of Allianz Group, an insurance company based in Munich, Germany. Allianz of America has $25 billion under management.

Ms. Asher, 46, will manage the in-house funds of Allianz of America and focus on financial and interest rate-sensitive stocks, including banks, insurance companies, telecommunications companies, and utilities.

Ms. Asher's move is part of a recent Wall Street trend of analysts' departing sell-side posts at brokerage firms for buy-side jobs at institutional investors. Another who recently shifted is Alison A. Deans, who left Smith Barney Inc. to join Zweig Hedge Fund.

An analyst who has spent the last 20 years covering regional and money- center banks for various brokerages, Ms. Asher said she had been looking for a "broader coverage" mandate.

"What is great about Allianz is that it is a small shop, nonbureaucratic, where you do not have to go through a committee to" make an investment, she said.

Ms. Asher said she has become "extremely selective" as the Dow Jones industrial average, the best-known market barometer, nears the 9,000 level. Travelers Group Inc. and Citicorp are among the companies she likes.

She worked for eight years at Merrill Lynch. Previously, she spent three years as a bank analyst at Fox-Pitt Kelton Inc. and 10 years at First Boston.

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