CHICAGO — Charlotte-based Bank of America Corp. on Thursday and Friday completed a new round of firings, cutting bankers, traders, sales, and underwriting professionals in offices throughout the country from its own ranks and those of recently acquired Merrill Lynch & Co.

No figures on the latest cuts were immediately available, although sources said the bank focused primarily on sales and trading layoffs on Thursday with investment banking cuts following on Friday. Representatives of both firms, which are still in the process of merging operations, did not returns calls to comment.

Additional firings are expected in two weeks, with the ultimate goal being a roughly 40% reduction in the tax-exempt group’s headcount, according to public finance sources citing internal speculation among the public finance staff.

In New York, Kimberly Paparello-Vaccari — a former finance director at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority who was the team leader of Banc of America Securities LLC’s transportation group — was fired, sources said.

In Chicago, the bank cut veteran general government banker Neil Pritz, a managing director, but sources said he will join the growing banking group at BMO Capital Markets GKST Inc. Chicago-based health care banker Phillip Kaplan, who had previously worked at Goldman, Sachs & Co. was also cut.

Michael Placencia, a banker at Merrill who joined last summer from UBS, was cut, as were derivatives specialists Damon Lee of Merrill, who worked out of London, and Banc of America’s Max Anthony, out of Charlotte.

“It’s not about capabilities, it’s about overlap and reducing bodies,” said one source. “It’s a very rough time.”

Sources said extensive cuts were made to the Banc of America sales, trading, and underwriting teams in New York City and Charlotte with the exception of the short-term desk.

Bank of America in late January undertook its first wave of layoffs, with the most prominent member of the public finance group cut in that round being Peter Hill, who had managed the public finance investment banking group. The move followed the December announcement that Merrill’s chairman of municipal markets, John Lawlor, had been selected to lead the merged municipal unit. Lawlor is overseeing all municipal activities, including origination, sales, and trading.

Prior to the merger, Merrill last fall fired more than a dozen public finance bankers and as many as 10 sales and trading professionals. The cuts came just a few months after the firm announced the hiring of 30 bankers from the shuttered public finance business of UBS Financial Services Inc., boosting its banking staff to about 150.

Bank of America announced its agreement to purchase Merrill Lynch — known for its “thundering herd” of brokers — Sept. 15, the same day Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filed for bankruptcy. Originally worth about $50 billion, the deal’s value has fallen sharply as Bank of America’s stock price has slid.

Merrill ranked second last year among senior managers on all bond issues, managing $40.8 billion in 340 issues, while Banc of America ranked seventh, with 353 issues totaling $19.9 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.

Bank of America early last year undertook its own round of cuts, closing its St. Louis office and cutting a several bankers in Chicago, New York City, and elsewhere. 


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