CHICAGO -- David Wilhelm, the outgoing chairman of the Democratic National Committee, will join Chicago-based Kemper Securities Inc. as a senior managing director of investment banking some time next month, the firm announced yesterday.
Wilhelm will be involved in both municipal and corporate investment banking and will be one of five senior managing directors in that area of the firm, according to Janice Kalmar, a Kemper spokeswoman.
In a press release, Thomas R. Reedy, Kemper's senior executive vice president, said Wilhelm's "experience, national name recognition, and extensive contacts in Chicago" will complement the firm's investment banking capabilities and "help the firm better meet the financing needs of its clients nationwide."
Wilhelm will not specialize in any one kind of financing or any particular geographical area of public finance, although his Chicago ties will be important, according to Kalmar.
"Obviously, he's very well known in Chicago, and we believe that will be a big market for him," she said.
Before becoming chairman of the Democratic National Committee in January 1993, Wilhelm managed Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's election campaigns in 1989 and 1991. He served as President Clinton's campaign manager in 1992. He also worked on the 1984 campaign of U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., and was Iowa campaign manager for Sen. Joseph Biden's presidential effort.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Wilhelm said he expects to focus his investment banking activities in the Midwest. He also didn't rule out having an "advisory" role in Daley's re-election campaign next year, even though Kemper could be contending for the city's bond business.
"I would want to be helpful to the mayor and would have to take any potential conflicts very seriously," he said.
While Wilhelm has had no direct experience in investment banking, he said he did some work in the past for Kemper through the Strategy Group, a Chicago-based political and public policy consulting firm with business, labor, and political clients, that he established in 1989. Wilhelm said he is no longer associated with the firm.
The announcement by Kemper came just two days after elections resulted in defeats for Democratic candidates across the nation.
Reaction to Wilhelm's hiring was mixed among Chicago's investment banking community.
"Of course this will give Kemper a big edge in trying to get municipal business throughout the Midwest," said one banker.
Another banker said there is always competition for municipal business and Wilhelm represents just another competitor.
In the press release, Reedy said the hiring of Wilhelm is "just one of a number of strategic hires over the past few months that demonstrate our commitment to this marketplace and our overall goal of becoming the premier securities brokerage firm headquartered in the Midwest."
Kemper Securities' parent company, Kemper Corp., has attracted several potential suitors over the past six months since an aborted overture from General Electric. Indiana-based Conseco Inc. made a $67-a-share bid for the securities firm in June, but has since backed away from that figure. Conseco officials acknowledged last week they are having trouble completing the financing and have cut their offer to $60 per share.
Conseco's announcement led to speculation that yet another bidder for Kemper will emerge in the next few weeks. Officials from SunAmerica Inc., Dean Witter Discover & Co., and Chubb Corp. -- rumored to be waiting in the wings -- have all declined comment on their possible plans to buy out Kemper.
Cris Carmody contributed to this article.