UBS AG's Warburg Dillon Read unit, widely thought to be on the selling block, has surprised some bankers with a recent hiring spree in which it has targeted some of the biggest names on the Street.

But it was the hiring this week of Lehman Brothers star lender Chris Ryan that may have sent the strongest message yet about the Swiss banking company's commitment to Warburg. Mr. Ryan, who had been at Lehman since 1991, was considered by many to be one of the loan industry's rising players. As head of loan sales and trading, he won a reputation as being a savvy, persuasive salesman with a talent for relationship-building, bankers say.

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