DENVER -- Christopher W. Romer, an investment banker with Smith Barney Inc. in Denver, has left the firm for a position with Dallasbased Rauscher Pierce Refsnes Inc.

The move is expected to give Rauscher a foothold in the New Mexico municipal market, since several of Romer's clients are key issuers in the state. They include Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Rio Rancho, as well as the state of New Mexico, the University of New Mexico, and Los Alamos County.

Romer's move follows Rauscher's recent hiring of another key banker who operates in New Mexico, Paul Cassidy. Cassidy used to head the Albuquerque office of The Principal/Eppler Guerin Turner. The office ranked second among financial advisers in New Mexico during 1993, with $123.4 million of issues to its credit, according to Securities Data Co.

Public Financial Management Inc. ranked first, with $194.4 million.

The Principal was co-manager on $498 million in the first six months of 1994. Cassidy said he and Kevin Powers were the Principal bankers on most of the deals before they left April 7 to join Rauscher's Albuquerque office.

Smith Barney led senior managers in New Mexico deals with $433 million in the first half of 1994.

Cassidy, a senior vice president at Rauscher, acknowledged that the firm has not had a strong municipal presence in New Mexico, but intends to change that.

"We do expect that our clients will follow the investment banker that has been serving their needs," Cassidy said from Albuquerque.

Rauscher is big enough to compete on the size financings typical to New Mexico, Cassidy said.

"If you look at our rankings, you'll find Rauscher was 15th nationally, and that's operating in a six-state region. We have a very strong capital base that will not inhibit us in doing the size of deals that are done in the state of New Mexico," Cassidy said.

"Rauscher has developed in short order a very impressive shop," said Jerry Dumas, a senior vice president and director of structured finance at Southwest Securities. Romer specializes in New Mexico credits. He will continue to work out of Denver, a source who spoke to Romer said.

"Rauscher Pierce Refsnes has one of the most successful municipal bond departments in the country, and I am excited to be a part of a company that emphasizes excellence in public finance," Romer said in a prepared statement. "I couldn't pass up the opportunity to better serve my New Mexico-based clients."

Romer has served as banker on $250 million of issues during his 10-year career, according to a Rauscher statement.

Romer could not be reached for comment Friday or yesterday.

Smith Barney officials could not be reached yesteday for comment.

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