Gerald Rosenfeld, head of investment banking at Lazard Freres & Co., is leaving the company to lead NationsBanc Montgomery Securities' first foray into private equity.

Mr. Rosenfeld will run a new fund for Montgomery, in which NationsBank Corp., Charlotte, N.C., will be the sole investor. The fund will have $600 million in capital and focus on investing in high-tech, health care, and financial services companies as well as other firms Montgomery specializes in developing.

The fund will also be used to finance leveraged buyouts, Mr. Rosenfeld said in a telephone interview.

Mr. Rosenfeld will remain based in New York and said he will start his new job next week.

Although he is leaving a top job at one of the country's premier mergers-and-acquisitions advisory firms, Mr. Rosenfeld, 51, said heading an equity fund for an investment bank "is what I've wanted to do for a long time."

"This is an intensely personal move and is no statement about Lazard," he said. "It was simply time in my life to take a crack at the investment side of things."

Mr. Rosenfeld's departure is the third by a senior executive at Lazard in recent months.

Last week vice chairman Kendrick R. Wilson 3d, who headed the firm's financial institutions group, left Lazard to become a managing director at Goldman, Sachs & Co. Ira Harris left Lazard's Chicago office earlier this year.

Mr. Rosenfeld said it was "an ugly coincidence" that he is leaving Lazard so soon after Mr. Wilson, who was his office mate when the two worked at Salomon Brothers in the 1980s.

He insisted his reasons for leaving are independent of any motivations Mr. Wilson may have had and have nothing to do with any of the recent management shake-ups at Lazard.

Before joining Lazard, Mr. Rosenfeld was head of merchant banking at Bankers Trust New York Corp., and previously was chief financial officer at Salomon Brothers.

Mr. Rosenfeld's partners will include Paul Lattanzio, formerly of Bankers Trust, and William B. Bunting, who headed Montgomery's private placements group.

A spokeswoman for Lazard said the firm has not yet named a successor for Mr. Rosenfeld.

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