Barclays PLC said Thursday it had hired former a former Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. trader, Kurt Weisenfluh, to be its head of U.S. mortgage trading, a newly created position.

Since Bank of America Corp. acquired Merrill Lynch in January, several key Merrill figures have left the company, including wealth management head Bob McCann and Chief Executive John Thain.

Weisenfluh had been director of pass-through trading at Merrill and held a similar position at Lehman Brothers from 2004 to early 2007. In September, Barclays acquired the U.S. broker-dealer and investment banking operations of the bankrupt Lehman.

Weisenfluh has also held senior trading positions at Bear Stearns Cos. (which was sold to JPMorgan Chase & Co. last year) and Citigroup Inc.'s Smith Barney.

Chip Stevens, Barclays' head of U.S. fixed-income trading, said, "The fixed-income market continues to provide many opportunities … to capitalize on our investment insights, and mortgages are no exception."

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