That's the Espírito

In leaving the asset management and advisory firm Alliance Partners to serve as general counsel of Espírito Santo Bank in Miami, T. Douglas Hollowell is rejoining some former colleagues and getting back into international banking-the two main factors that he says attracted him to the job.

Hollowell at one time worked at Merrill Lynch Bank, as did G. Frederick Reinhardt, Espírito Santo's current chairman and CEO. Espírito Santo is majority owned by Portugal's Banco Espírito Santo and offers such services as wealth management, real estate lending and trade finance to domestic and international clients.


Yankee Doodle

You may have missed Google's homage this summer to trailblazing astronomer Maria Mitchell, but Massachusetts banker Michelle Starr certainly noticed it. On what would have been Mitchell's 195th birthday, Google dressed up its homepage logo with a "doodle" depicting Mitchell's discovery of a comet in 1847. The rooftop from which she was perched with her telescope? Well, it was then, and still is, the home of Pacific National Bank of Nantucket, now a unit of Bank of America.

Starr, the perhaps aptly named VP and manager of the banking center at 61 Main St., was pleasantly surprised by the doodle but is very familiar with Mitchell and the bank's history. The astronomer's father, William Mitchell, was a cashier at the bank, and the family lived upstairs in the building. Founded in 1804, Pacific National was sold to BankBoston in 1997. The deal stipulated that the bank got to keep its name, Starr says. That agreement has been honored by a succession of owners, including BofA. There are no BofA signs or logos there, according to Starr. "It's not like any Bank of America branch you have ever been in," she says.


Ardalan's New Assignment

What longtime commercial banker Bita Ardalan once did for Los Angeles, she has now been assigned to do for the entire West Coast. Last month, San Francisco-based Union tasked Ardalan with heading up commercial lending activities in California, Oregon and Washington, building on her prior experience as Union's market president for the greater LA area. In between, Ardalan spent two and a half years running a national specialized lending group for Union that focuses on sectors including healthcare, public finance, and aerospace and defense. That post made her one of the 25 Women to Watch on our ranking last year of the Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance.


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These Hires Look Wicked Smaht

Just as Palo Alto is a hub for venture capitalists who like to work near great universities, more than 100 venture capital firms use Boston as a base to invest in tech firms along the East Coast, according to Los Angeles' City National Bank. So when the $27.4 billion-asset City National opened a loan production office in Boston, it hired local tech bankers William Sweeney and James Demoy to bring in clients.

Sweeney, who joins as regional director, has more than 15 years' experience in tech lending, most recently as a managing director, also in Massachusetts, for Comerica Bank. Demoy, another tech banking veteran from Comerica, is a senior relationship manager reporting to Sweeney.


Bailing Out of TARP Ardalan's New Assignment

For Kessel Stelling and the rest of the executive team at Synovus Financial, it must have been gratifying enough just to get the company out from under the Troubled Asset Relief Program. But the virtual high-fives they got from various well-wishers were appreciated, too.

"Congratulations on being free at last," one analyst said during the Columbus, Ga., company's second-quarter earnings call, drawing laughter from others who had dialed in.

Stelling, chairman and CEO of the $26.6 billion-asset Synovus, says he received "several hundred emails from employees, regulators and supporters" congratulating him. And analysts made note of the achievement both on the Columbus, Ga., company's second-quarter earnings call and in research notes on the stock.

Before the repayment, Synovus had the largest outstanding TARP balance. That distinction now belongs to Puerto Rico's Banco Popular, which owes $935 million.

Synovus' redemption of roughly $968 million of preferred stock was the culmination of years of hard work, Stelling says. But he's keeping the achievement in perspective.

"At the end of the day we paid back a loan that we owed money on," he says. "We expect the same of our customers every day."

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