Six weeks after his investment management team resigned, Harry V. Keefe Jr. is battling back.
Mr. Keefe, who heads one of the largest bank hedge funds, has assembled a new team and said he is considering an offer from a publicly traded financial company that wants to buy a 25% stake.
Veteran bank analysts Frank J. Barkocy and Charles Cramner joined Keefe Managers Inc. Monday. Mr. Barkocy was head of the Financial Institutions Groups at Josephthal Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co., and Advest. He was elected to the Wall Street Journal All-Stars Analysts team in 1998 and named nine times to the Institutional Investor All American Research team.
Mr. Cramner was recently a portfolio manager and head of research at M.A. Shapiro Partners.
Mr. Keefe declined to identify the potential investor, but he said additional capital could give the firm more clout and that bringing in an investor would be a way to spread the firm's risk.
Also joining Keefe are Bill Rubin, who will become Keefe's portfolio manager, and Raymond Judge, who has joined as head trader. Mr. Rubin was previously a portfolio manager with Fidelity Management where he managed $800 million, and Mr. Rubin was a senior position trader at Credit Suisse First Boston.
In an interview Monday, Mr. Keefe said that it was not difficult finding a team.
"I've been putting together good investment teams for quite some time," said Mr. Keefe, who also founded boutique investment firm Keefe Bruyette & Woods. Inc.
The seasoned team is likely to put to rest anxieties investors have had about the recent departure of the investment team which had been with Mr. Keefe for many years. President Matthew F. Byrnes and analysts Felice Gelman and Marge Demarrais left Keefe Managers in early February. This month, head trader Kenneth Shanahan resigned.
The departures prompted speculation that Mr. Keefe's proxy fight against St. Paul Bancorp, a $6 billion thrift in Chicago, would be derailed. But Mr. Keefe signaled his determination to pursue his goals when he requested the company's shareholder list.
Mr. Keefe has been pressing St. Paul to put itself up for sale because of its poor returns.