Merrill Lynch & Co.'s global loan department has added three executives as the company looks to bolster its presence in Latin America and the real estate lending sector, a senior executive said.

The new employees, who joined the company this week, represent another wave of growth for the syndicated lending division that Merrill launched in 1994. Like most investment banks, Merrill continues to focus on specific sectors and geographic regions as it builds market presence.

The hirings hint at where Merrill is aiming. David Dysenchuk joined the company as a managing director responsible for global real estate loan transactions.

Mr. Dysenchuk worked most recently for Union Bank of Switzerland, where he was responsible for underwriting real estate loan syndications.

A former Bank of Santander vice president, Manuel Mendivil joined Merrill's Latin America regional lending operation as a vice president of underwriting and structuring. His addition boosts the investment bank's staff in the region to three full-time lenders.

Jack Lucid joined Merrill as a director responsible for underwriting syndicated global loans. Mr. Lucid most recently worked at Lehman Brothers, where he was senior vice president of leveraged finance.

"The syndicated loan is a growth product at Merrill," said Jack Yang, head of syndicated lending at its New York office. "These hires represent our plan to be industry- and region-specific."

The company has also hired two more executives-yet unnamed-to its European division. The bank ranks fifth among U.S. corporate lenders in Europe.

The modest additions suggest investment banks are nowhere near to competing on the scale of such U.S. banks as Chase Manhattan Corp. or J.P. Morgan & Co., which did a combined $736 billion in loans in 1997 and owned 66.7% of the market, according to Securities Data Co.

Merrill ranked 20th among agent-only lending in 1997, with 23 loans totaling $26.1 billion and a 2.4% market share, according to Securities Data.

But a closer look suggests the newcomers-especially Merrill, Lehman Brothers, and Goldman, Sachs & Co.-are making inroads in certain sectors.

Merrill ranks in the top 10 in many of its target sectors, including Latin America and Europe. The bank also has led two of the biggest Latin America loans this year: a $1.75 billion loan for BellSouth Brazil and an $850 million loan for Brazil Light.

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