Fortress Investment Group hired Michael Nierenberg, Bank of America's head of global mortgages and securitized products, as a senior executive in its private-equity business, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

Nierenberg is joining New York-based Fortress to focus on residential mortgages, real estate investment trusts and property-related holdings such as Springleaf Finance Corp. and Nationstar Mortgage Holdings Inc., said the person, who asked not to be identified because the hire wasn't publicly announced. Nierenberg knows Fortress co-founder Wes Edens, who runs the company's private-equity unit, from when they worked at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., the person said.

Gordon Runte, a Fortress spokesman, declined to comment. The Wall Street Journal reported Nierenberg's move yesterday.

Fortress, the first publicly traded private-equity and hedge-fund manager in the U.S., has expanded its investments in financial services with mortgage servicers such as Springleaf and Nationstar. Lewisville, Texas-based Nationstar increased its servicing portfolio by 94 percent last year to $198 billion through asset purchases, including from a unit of Lehman Brothers, and bought $215 billion of contracts from Bank of America earlier this year.

Financial-services investments "were the stars," Edens said on a call last month discussing second-quarter earnings. "All the U.S. companies — so Springleaf, Nationstar, CW — they all had a terrific year, and they have, we think, a lot of room to continue to grow." CW refers to CW Financial Services LLC.

Bank of America named James DeMare as Nierenberg's replacement, reporting to David Sobotka, head of global fixed-income, currency and commodities trading, according to an internal memo from the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank. DeMare was head of mortgages and securitized products for the Americas, according to the memo, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News.

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