CHICAGO - Reinoso & Company Inc. has opened a public finance office in Chicago and put a former Rodman & Renshaw Inc. banker in charge.

Keith Weatherspoon, who had been a first vice president of public finance at Chicago-based Rodman, joined Reinoso last month as vice president and manager of the Chicago office.

Edward Reinoso, president of Reinoso, said yesterday that after having served as co-manager on Chicago area deals for more than two years, the firm realized it made sense to open a Chicago office.

"For banking purposes, it's essential to have someone on the ground who is sensitive to what's going on," Reinoso said.

Reinoso said that for some time his firm had been looking for "a qualified professional that fits what we're trying to do" before finding the right match in Weatherspoon.

Weatherspoon is presently the sole banker in the Chicago office, but another banker will be hired, Reinoso said. The Chicago branch may also launch a trading operation at some point, he said.

Weatherspoon said his primary target for public finance will be Chicago and the surrounding metropolitan area.

"Chicago, being an older city, has a lot of infrastructure [financing] that probably will have to be done over time," Weatherspoon said.

Weatherspoon said he plans to expand his efforts into Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa.

Reinoso, a Hispanic and woman-owned firm, is only the second Hispanic municipal bond firm with a presence in Chicago. The other is Gaean Capital Inc., which opened last October. A number of other minority-owned and woman-owned firms have opened offices in the city over the last few years.

Reinoso and Weatherspoon both said that the lack of a large presence by Hispanic firms in Chicago was not the motivating factor in opening the office.

"We came to the Midwest market because it issues as much debt as it does," Reinoso said. "That Chicago, in particular; the state [of Illinois]; and Cook County are aggressive in identifying minority firms doesn't hurt us."

Said Weatherspoon: "We feel we have the tools and people that compare with a larger firm on the Street. We're not primarily using our minority status to get business. We can compete at the senior levels."

New York-based Reinoso also has offices in Los Angeles and Houston.

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