Officials at Printon, Kane Group in Short Hills, N.J., have confirmed that the company, which has a specialty in municipal bond trading and sales, closed its doors for good late yesterday.

"You can go ahead and cancel our [Bond Buyer] subscription as of five o'clock," Deborah J. Whitmore, an official in Printon Kane's municipal sales and trading operation, said yesterday afternoon.

Whitmore confirmed the company will close, but declined to say what was behind the decision.

Market sources in New Jersey say Printon Kane, which was founded in 1972, has been struggling for the past several months, especially after what one source described as "a major loss" recently on a transaction in its mortgage department.

Since that time, several professionals have left the firm to join other companies, the source said. "[The closing] was no surprise," he said. "There have been rumors for two months."

Printon Kane's municipal operations suffered a massive blow in 1990, when virtually the entire municipal bond department walked off to join William E. Simon & Sons of Morristown, N.J.

Led by Robert F. Grimmig, the former head of trading at Printon Kane, and Joel A. Marshall, also a former partner at the firm, almost the entire staff abandoned Printon Kane in February 1990, forcing the company to close temporarily and regroup.

Grimmig and Marshall then joined a venture with William E. Simon, the former secretary of the U.S. Treasury, who in late 1989 agreed to bankroll a new municipal bond firm bearing his name.

Almost immediately following the 1990 exodus, Printon Kane began a rebuilding effort.

The firm hired A. Theodore Palatucci and Robert K. Fitzpatrick, two former managing directors of Merrill Lynch Capital Markets, to lead the company's municipal operations.

At the time, Palatucci said one strategy would be to expand Printon Kane's regional municipal operations. In addition to the Short Hills headquarters, Printon Kane maintained offices in Boyton Beach, Fla., New York City, San Francisco, and West Palm Beach.

The company at one time aspired to be a primary dealer in government securities, but abandoned that effort in 1990 in the face of a new Public Securities Association requirement that primary dealers maintain at least $50 million in capital.

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