Hire Wire Jan 30 2012

BofA Names Meissner Head of Investment Banking

By dan fitzpatrick

Bank of America Corp. shook up its investment-banking leadership Sunday, naming Christian Meissner the sole head of that business, said people familiar with the situation.

The move, which was announced in an internal memo, is the latest executive shuffle since the bank's 2009 purchase of securities firm Merrill Lynch & Co. Appointing the Austrian-born Meissner to the top spot dismantles a structure put in place last April when he, Michael Rubinoff and Paul Donofrio were named co-heads of global corporate and investment banking.

A Bank of America spokeswoman declined to comment. Meissner couldn't be reached immediately.

Putting Meissner in charge of the investment bank is part of an attempt by co-chief operating officer Thomas Montag to simplify his part of the company amid a wrenching period for Wall Street, these people said. Chief Executive Brian Moynihan gave Montag responsibility for all corporate and institutional clients last fall.

The shift also means the investment bank will be under the control of a relative newcomer who has no historic ties either to Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America or the old Merrill Lynch.

Bank of America agreed to buy Merrill at the height of the financial crisis, when Merrill was in danger of collapse. Many Merrill bankers, especially in London, left the firm in the wake of the union. Montag hired Meissner from Nomura Holdings Inc. in 2010 partly to rebuild the bank's talent base overseas.

Like Montag, Meissner is a veteran of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. He also worked for Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Nomura before joining Bank of America as head of investment banking for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Initially he reported to Rubinoff and another executive, but in April 2011 Montag combined corporate and investment-banking units and named Meissner one of three co-heads. The move was part of a larger push by the bank to sell more products by referring clients to different parts of the company.

The two other investment banking co-heads are staying on at the bank. Rubinoff will become a chairman of global corporate and investment banking, and Donofrio will take on a role focusing on corporate banking and treasury services, according to the memo. Rubinoff, one of the highest-ranking holdovers from the old Merrill Lynch, is well liked by other senior bankers, and there was concern others could follow if he left, according to people familiar with the situation. One person familiar with the matter said some departures are still expected.

Rubinoff declined to comment through the Bank of America spokeswoman.

Meissner will take over a business that slipped late in 2011. Fees from investment banking fell 34% in the fourth quarter from a year earlier amid a slowdown on Wall Street and economic turmoil in Europe.

Morale could also take a hit, as many bankers are due to receive year-end bonuses next month that will be significantly less than the year before. On top of that, employees are bracing for more job cuts in 2012, as the company finishes the second stage of an aggressive expense-reduction campaign.

The bank is likely to identify about $3 billion in annual expenses that will be cut from investment banking, corporate banking and wealth management. The moves will likely include job reductions on top of 30,000 personnel cutbacks already identified in the bank's consumer businesses.

This story originally appeared on WSJ.com




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