Half an hour into his new job at Salomon Brothers Tuesday morning, Chad Leat was sounding a bit breathless. And why not?

Monday, he abruptly ended a 12-year career at Chase Manhattan Corp., where he was most recently a managing director overseeing relationships with leveraged-buyout firms.

Tuesday, as he settled into his new digs, Mr. Leat pronounced himself "ecstatic" to be at Salomon. As a managing director in the firm's high- yield capital markets group, he will manage its fledgling bridge loan fund and match up LBO firms with a range of fixed-income financing.

For starters, he said, he likes his new surroundings in Manhattan's financial district. "Coming back downtown feels like coming home," said Mr. Leat, who moved to a midtown office a year ago, soon after Chase completed its merger with Chemical Banking Corp.

But more importantly, Mr. Leat said, he was excited to be part of Salomon's effort to integrate its year-old loan syndication business into its more traditional corporate finance activities.

"This firm has a wonderful high-yield business and a huge customer base," he said.

Mr. Leat will be coordinating the activities of teams that now offer syndications, high-yield bonds, and bridge financing to LBO firms. He will report to Randy Barker, head of high-yield trading and co-head of global debt capital markets.

The 40-year-old Kansas native brings to Salomon a solid reputation and close ties to buyout firms such as Yucaipa, Leonard Green & Partners, and Texas Pacific Group. Mr. Leat also has experience building Chase's mammoth $1.2 billion bridge loan fund, called the Roebling fund.

Market sources said Salomon expects to form a bridge loan fund and build it to as much as $800 million.

Salomon is one of the last investment banking firms to put together a bridge loan fund.

"Since Salomon plans to participate in bridge lending," said M. William Benedetto, founder of the boutique investment bank Benedetto, Gartland & Co., "they will do it very carefully with experienced and knowledgeable people."

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