LOS ANGELES - First Union Corp.'s Capital Markets Group is expanding its national presence by opening a West Coast regional investment banking office based in Los Angeles.

The West Coast office will enable First Union to strengthen its service to clients across the nation, including those in the health care, communications, mortgage banking, leasing, oil and gas, defense, and other specialized industries concentrated on the West Coast.

The First Union group also plans to market its full line of capital markets and investment banking services to prospective clients throughout the West.

John Dahl, formerly a managing director of First Chicago Corp., will lead First Union's capital markets efforts on the West Coast, reporting to managing director Mark Mahoney. He will focus primarily on transaction origination and the building of new client relationships on the West Coast.

In addition, Mr. Dahl will support all First Union bankers calling in this region by providing investment banking expertise to enhance existing client relationships.

"This is a natural extension of a very successful national banking effort by First Union and an opportunity to leverage our comprehensive investment banking capabilities to companies across the country," Mr. Mahoney said.

Separately, First Union opened a West Coast trade finance office in June 1995 to strengthen its ability to facilitate trade and issue letters of credit for companies doing business on the Pacific Rim.

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