Firstar Corp.’s purchase of U.S. Bancorp, scheduled to take place in the first quarter, would create the nation’s seventh-ranked asset management firm, with nearly $130 billion under management.

But to Thomas Schreier, recently named chief executive officer of the merged company’s asset management division, $130 billion is a starting point.

“We have the opportunity to tap a lot of pools of talent. We suddenly have strong central locations in Minneapolis and Milwaukee, and in Madison, Wis., St. Louis, and Cincinnati,” he said. “We have the opportunity to really outperform everyone in the Midwest and grow from there.”

For two years before being tapped for the post-merger job, Mr. Schreier, 38, was head of equity research at Minneapolis-based Piper Jaffray U.S. Bancorp. While there, he added 18 senior research analysts to the 21 already there, helping the unit to exceed its growth goals.

Mr. Schreier said that is one reason he won the new assignment. “They wanted someone who could handle something through a doubling in size.”

The asset management division at the post-merger U.S. Bancorp (Firstar will take its target’s name) will include Piper Jaffray’s $34 billion of assets, Firstar Asset Management’s $16 billion family of mutual funds, and the old U.S. Bancorp’s $79 billion First American family of funds. About 45 of the funds have four- or five-star ratings from Morningstar Inc.

Mr. Schreier said that it is too early to make any decisions about the future of specific funds and investment products in the new unit, but he is definitely on the growth trail.

“I believe that by increasing a money management firm’s footprint in terms of talent and reach, you can grow substantially. It worked for us on a smaller scale at Piper Jaffray, and it will work here,” he said.

Mr. Schreier said there is surprisingly little overlap among the products. “There’s more interlock than overlap — a lot of the products one firm has, the other does not,” he said.

Nor was there much surprise in Mr. Schreier’s getting the job. When the deal was announced analysts predicted that Piper Jaffray would probably be the cornerstone of the combined unit.

“Firstar is going with what’s strong here, and in terms of this hire, the strength lies in Piper Jaffray,” said Eric Rothman, an analyst at First Security Van Kasper in San Francisco.

James Davidson, an analyst with D.A. Davidson & Co., agreed. Piper Jaffray’s size and more recognizable brand — it has 100 branches in 18 states — made Mr. Schreier’s selection a logical one, he said. He predicted that the merged asset management unit would take the Piper Jaffray name.


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