DALLAS - Robert W. Baird & Co., an employee-owned investment and underwriting firm based in Milwaukee, is expanding its new Denver public finance operation with five former Wachovia Securities executives.

Joining the company are managing directors Brian Colon, Jim Blandford, and Ann Erickson Gifford, vice president Brian Kelso, and public finance coordinator Stacey Reid.

"Despite the current market conditions, Baird's public finance team is pursuing - and will continue to pursue - opportunities to enhance our talent, footprint and overall market share," said Keith Kolb, managing director of the public finance group. "We look forward to Brian and his team opening up the western region for our public finance group."

Colon was managing director and manager of the western region municipal products group for Wachovia. Colon has 25 years experience in public finance.

Blandford has worked in public finance for more than 23 years, most recently as vice president for public finance at Wachovia. Before that, he was financial adviser and principal at his own company, Blandford and Co. He previously managed the Phoenix public finance offices for Piper Jaffray & Co. and Principal Financial Securities.

With more than 25 years in public finance, Gifford worked as a director for Wachovia Securities after working as vice president at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. and Dain Rauscher.

Kelso worked as an investment banker at Wachovia in the public finance department, where Reid was a product specialist.

Wachovia began laying off employees after its merger with Wells Fargo as the public finance business consolidated due to a deepening national recession and near frozen debt markets.

Baird said it moved up in Thomson Reuters' public finance rankings in 2008 and that growth has continued in the first quarter of 2009 when it held top ranking for managing underwriters on issues of $10 million or less. It ranked 12th among managing underwriters generally.

Founded in 1919, Robert W. Baird & Co. has more than 2,300 associates, managing client assets of $62 billion.

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