Bank of America Merrill Lynch fights back in talent stakes

David Hellier
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BANK of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) took the first step towards replenishing talent for its European investment bank yesterday, poaching one of the City’s most senior bankers to be president of Europe and Emerging Markets, and recruiting one of its former charges to co-head its UK corporate broking team.

After a period during which the investment bank has been worryingly haemorrhaging talent, BAML sees these recent hirings as pivotal.

There was some sweet revenge in the hiring of Alex Wilmot-Sitwell from UBS, since that rival bank has been responsible for hiring several BAML employees including star banker Andrea Orcel and Jim Forbes in the US over the last few weeks.

Wilmot-Sitwell, one of the key advisers on the government’s financial restructuring of Lloyds Banking Group, will take over the role of president of Europe and Emerging Markets recently vacated by Jonathan Moulds.

Wilmot-Sitwell was most recently chairman of the UBS Investment Bank, although he had also recently served time in Asia.

In an internal email to staff, BoA’s chief operating officer Tom Montag wrote: “I am delighted that we are able to welcome one of the world’s most experienced international bankers to our leadership team.”

His role will be mainly a figure- head one and he will focus on risk control, corporate governance, regulatory and community relations.

Orcel had campaigned for the job that Wilmot-Sitwell will now be doing and had gone through several discussions with the Financial Services Authority to get his regulatory clearance. However, just as he appeared set to take up the role, Orcel announced he was leaving for UBS.

Just as important for BAML, however, is the re-hiring of Michael Findlay. He rejoins as co-head of corporate broking for Europe, the Middle East and Africa where he will be partnered by Ed Peel, an equity salesman, who joined last summer from Nomura.

Findlay joins from Moelis, the boutique investment bank started by the former UBS star Ken Moelis, where he worked with Mark Aedy.

The appointment of one of the former lynchpins of the investment bank from its days prior to the merger with Bank of America is being viewed positively within the bank as it seeks to move forward after a series of staff departures.

The corporate broking department, which remains under the auspices of Simon Mackenzie-Smith, chairman of UK & Ireland corporate and investment banking, recently lost its joint heads, Mark Astaire and Simon Fraser.

Astaire was poached by Barclays whilst Fraser took early retirement. The department was also hit by the departure of Andrew Osborne, the highly-rated oils expert, who left shorty before agreeing to a Financial Services Authority fine for alleged market abuse.

Andrew Tusa continues to look after some of the bank’s largest corporate client relationships and will further develop the bank’s corporate advisory practice.

At the same time, it emerged that another senior banker, Michael Rubinoff, was leaving BAML.