Municipal employees at Kidder, Peabody Inc. could know by this afternoon if they will remain with PaineWebber Inc., or if PaineWebber's purchase of the troubled brokerage firm will leave them without a job, a source with knowledge of the matter said.

PaineWebber has informally told several key members of Kidder's municipal staff that the firm will keep them on following the merger. On Oct. 16, General Electric Co. agreed to sell Kidder to PaineWebber, and since that time the fate of much of Kidder's municipal staff has been uncertain.

That is likely to change today, a source with knowledge of the matter said. Terry L. Atkinson, a manager of PaineWebber's municipal securities group, will tell individual Kidder municipal employees whether or not they will be hired.

Atkinson did not return a telephone call for comment. But knowledgeable sources say PaineWebber will probably retain about half of Kidder's municipal investment bankers, and only a small percentage of the firm's trading and underwriting staff.

"I heard they are taking 50% of the bankers," one source with knowledge of the moves said on Friday. "They're going to tell people on Monday."

Sources also say that PaineWebber's takeover of Kidder's municipal department will probably conclude sometime this week. So far PaineWebber has offered jobs to investment banker Paul E. Ladd and the staff of Kidder's Philadelphia office, sources with knowledge of the matter say. Kidder officials would not comment on the offers.

At the moment, at least a half dozen firms are trying to recruit Kidder municipal employees. The firms include Citicorp Securities Inc., Wertheim Schroder & Co., PNC Securities Corp., Tucker Anthony Inc., and First Albany Corp.

It could not be determined if these firms have reached formal agreements with Kidder employees.

In a related matter, sources say that PaineWebber has offered David I. Weprin, a senior vice president at Kidder, an investment banking job at PaineWebber. Weprin is the son of former New York State Assembly speaker Saul Weprin.

If he accepts PaineWebber's offer, Weprin will likely supplement PaineWebber's New York State banking duties. Weprin specializes in New York State and New York municipal issues.

At the moment, Walter T. Kicinski, a managing director, handles most of PaineWebber's banking duties with the state and its authorities.

Niether Weprin nor Kicinski could be reached for comment. However, sources say Kicinski now plays an administrative role at PaineWebber, and that his duties would not conflict with Weprin's.

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