Hire Wire Apr 25 2012

BofA Strikes Back at Rival UBS

By alison tudor

HONG KONG—Bank of America Merril Lynch has hired Alex Wilmot-Sitwell, a veteran banker at UBS AG, striking back after a series of senior defections to its Swiss rival.

The Charlotte, N.C., company has named Wilmot-Sitwell president of its businesses across Europe and emerging markets but excluding Asia according to a memo sent to staff. Wilmot-Sitwell will move from Hong Kong to be based in London and report to Tom Montag, who oversees all of the firm's corporate and institutional clients.

Most recently, Wilmot-Sitwell was chairman of UBS's investment bank, and before that co-chief executive for Asia-Pacific. He is also a former member of the UBS group executive board.

Bank of America has been competing more aggressively for international assignments and trying to establish itself as a major deal maker around the world--a change for a company that historically has confined the bulk of its efforts to U.S. shores.

"Alex will be responsible for ensuring that our integrated strategy to manage and drive the development of our businesses across these two vital regions is effectively executed," said Montag in the memo.

But its efforts have been frustrated somewhat by a number of high-profile banker moves in the industry; and the traffic between UBS and Bank of America has been particularly busy.

Wilmot-Sitwell's arrival follows news last month that Bank of America's had lost one of its top international deal makers, Andrea Orcel, to UBS. Mr. Orcel was named co-head of UBS's investment bank.

Orcel's move erased a carefully orchestrated executive shuffle in the U.S. bank's European operations, where Orcel was set to be named as a successor to its European president, Jonathan Moulds. Orcel most recently ran Bank of America's emerging-markets business outside Asia.

Six other bankers followed Orcel to UBS, including Javier Oficialdegui, who was named co-head of financial institutions for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to memo sent at the time.

Earlier this month another well-known banker, Jim Forbes, also departed for UBS.

Going the other way, was UBS's vice chairman of the investment bank in Asia, Rodney Ward, who helped the company build its China franchise. Mr. Ward left UBS last month to join Bank of America as chairman of Asia Pacific corporate and investment banking, people familiar with the matter have said.

The traffic underscores a cultural shift at Bank of America. Increasingly, its leadership is made up of relative newcomers who have no ties either to Charlotte, N.C., Bank of America or to Merrill Lynch.

This story first appeared on WSJ.com

Write to Alison Tudor at alison.tudor@wsj.com

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