Continuing a buildup of its securities and investment banking businesses, Societe Generale hired six fixed-income sales and trading staffers from Union Bank of Switzerland this week.
The most prominent hire is Richard Brounstein, a managing director at UBS since joining the firm in 1995. He will head the French bank's unit as managing director.
Also moving to Societe Generale from UBS are Peter Pinto, who will be director and head of U.S. government securities trading; John "Chip" Montgomery and John Mandy, vice presidents in fixed-income sales; Joseph Stefanik as director in mortgage backed sales and trading; and Theodore Podest as vice president of administration for the group.
Mr. Brounstein will report to James M. Walsh, managing director and chief operating officer of Societe Generale Securities Corp., who joined the bank last September from Prudential Securities.
The French bank has hired close to 100 people for the securities operation in the past 12 months as it develops what was previously a little known bond trading group into what it expects will be a major component of its operations.
"You really have got to be a universal bank that has a certain amount of involvement in capital markets around the world, and without an involvement in the U.S. dollar capital market, you're chopped liver," said Mr. Walsh.
The new fixed-income group will handle a host of European, U.S., Latin American, and emerging-market products including mortgage and asset backed securities, corporates, Treasuries, derivatives, and asset swaps.
Much like UBS has already done, Societe Generale is investing heavily in the securities business in the United States, turning to both Wall Street firms such as Oppenheimer & Co. and other commercial banks such as UBS and NationsBank for personnel. That talent costs money, but the bank may not be paying the high prices many expect of a foreign bank to pay.
"For six people like this, it's more often the case of looking to find a new, more comfortable home than it is about the next $100,000 or $1 million," said one financial executive recruiter.
"These guys are not going to be eligible for food stamps in next six months while they build the business here," said Mr. Walsh.
"They're being paid well, but none of these people or the people we're talking to elsewhere are moving for money. We're not going around saying 'We're a foreign bank, so we understand we've got to pay a premium for people.' What we're offering here is a platform for somebody, a chance to build something," he said.
Other hires by Societe Generale over the past year include: Curtis R. Welling, formerly of First Boston, as senior managing director and head of the investment banking division; David Feinman and Neil Parkeh as co-heads of high-yield sales and trading from Citicorp and NationsBank, respectively; NationsBank's Paul W. Shaum and Bradley Yates as head of high-yield research and head of high-yield capital markets, respectively; and James N. Lane, a former Goldman Sachs partner, as head of its investments group.
Societe Generale lured Keith Barnish, head of loan syndications at BankAmerica, away only to see him rejoin the bank days later.
It will take at least another 12 months to find if the buildup has been successful, acknowledged Mr. Walsh, but he noted that senior bank management is dedicated to the plan.
"It's no longer sufficient just to be the league leader in selling bonds for somebody, or to be the big guy on the block in syndicated loans," he said. "You've really got to put them both together."