The new lending group at Morgan Stanley & Co. is looking more and more like the one that used to be at Bankers Trust New York Corp.

Since luring L. Bram Smith away from his position as head of loan syndications from Bankers Trust in late February, the investment bank has hired three of Mr. Smith's former colleagues: Chris Pucillo, a performing- loan trader, and salesmen Eric Coombs and Kris Mack.

Morgan Stanley also brought over salesman Roger Gilbert from Chase Manhattan.

Andy Arthur, at Morgan Stanley for the last year, will head distressed sales, new issues, and par trading.

Experts said they could not comment on the activity of the new team thus far because it hadn't made many trades, but they said they were impressed with the talent and the potential of the group.

"He's hired a very good team," said Allison Taylor, a vice president and par loan trader at ING Barings in New York.

"It looks like they are committing big," said Ms. Taylor, the chairwoman of the newly formed Debt Traders Association.

At Bankers Trust, Mr. Pucillo was the treasurer of the Debt Traders Association, a position he had to vacate to move to Morgan Stanley.

The group will elect someone this week to serve as treasurer until officers are elected in September. Mr. Pucillo is expected to be voted in for the remainder of the term.

Morgan Stanley's gains appear to be Bankers Trust's losses.

"Bankers Trust didn't want to lose these people," said Ray Soifer, a bank analyst at Brown Brothers Harriman. "They'll have to dig into the bench strength and put some people in place."

Mr. Soifer added, however, that he didn't think the effect of the departures would be profound. "It's not as if these people are taking relationships with them that won't survive without them," he said.

A spokesman at Bankers Trust said that others have assumed the responsibilities of those who left.

"We expect to bring in additional people to the group to bring the staff level back up, which will be done both by internal transfers and recruiting from outside the firm," he said.

Tony Lord, an executive recruiter at Ward Howell International, said that the new team faces some stiff competition in tackling some of the same business that the new Chase Manhattan controls.

"It'll be interesting to see how they take on the dominant 500-pound gorilla," Mr. Lord said. "These guys face the same problem that Citicorp and Chase and J.P. Morgan faced in getting into the private placement and high yield business."

Experts were eagerly awaiting signs of the level of commitment at Morgan Stanley to this business.

Mr. Smith, however, said that these new hires send a signal to the market.

He said: "In terms of the quality and quantity of these recent hires, this is a strong demonstration that Morgan Stanley is committed to the loan business for the long term."

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