To bolster its investment banking capability, KeyCorp has agreed to buy Trident Securities Inc. and its sister company, Trident Financial Corp.

The deal, announced Wednesday and expected to close in April, would give Cleveland-based KeyCorp a niche player in the fixed-income market and mergers and acquisitions advisement.

Trident, based in Raleigh, N.C., has been a major player in advising thrifts on demutualization and M&A.

Trident, which has 39 employees, would operate as a subsidiary of KeyCorp's McDonald Investments Inc. unit, which the bank bought last year for $580 million. Terms of the deal with Trident were not disclosed.

After the earlier deal, McDonald's competitors tried to lure away customers by arguing that a bank-owned firm might have conflicts of interest. Some of McDonald's clients were also clients of KeyCorp, the nation's 12th-largest banking company.

Lee Burrows, a managing director and partner based at Trident's Atlanta office, said Trident would continue to attract business from the banks it targets-those with under $2 billion of assets.

"We'll be an independent entity a long way from KeyCorp," Mr. Burrows said. "Of all the deals we've done, KeyCorp has never been a potential acquirer. We're in a different league."

Charlie R. Crowley, managing director and co-head of McDonald's financial services group, said the Chinese wall between investment banking and banking is strictly observed at his company.

"We don't have much contact with KeyCorp on a day-to-day basis," he said, and that is "pointed out to clients."

Mr. Burrows said the merger with McDonald would give Trident one of the largest fixed-income trading desks outside of New York and a team of banking analysts. McDonald would get a beachhead in the Southeast.

Trident's Atlanta operations will be combined with McDonald's fixed- income office there. McDonald expects to open a private client group office in the city this year.

"We feel there's a lack of quality investment banking competition here," Mr. Burrows said.

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