Oakland-based underwriter Blaylock Robert Van LLC enlisted municipal industry veteran Robert Ceresa early last week in a move expected to be formally announced Monday.
He comes to Blaylock from San Francisco-based Grigsby & Associates, where he spent more than five years as a partner and executive vice president.
Ceresa opened Grigsby’s New York office in late 2004 and developed a municipal sales, trading and underwriting team for the firm.
He resigned from Grigsby on July 15 and was named an executive vice president within sales and trading at Blaylock’s New York office last week.
The Long Island University graduate reports to Eric Standifer, Blaylock’s president and chief executive officer, who is appreciative of the track record Ceresa brings to the post.
“Rob has 30 years of experience in the municipal bond business with bulge-bracket and minority-owned firms,” Standifer said. “He has a slew of relationships on both the buy and the sell side.”
Before joining Grigsby, Ceresa was a senior vice president at M.R. Beal & Co., an investment bank specializing in municipal finance, corporate finance, and equity execution.
Ceresa worked in the municipal finance departments at E.F. Hutton & Co., Wertheim & Co., L.F. Rothschild, and Oppenheimer & Co. early in his career. He also authored the New York News Letter from 1980 to 1997, which promoted local municipalities to institutional investors throughout the country.
His son, Jonathan Ceresa, joined Blaylock as an analyst last month. He previously worked at Grigsby doing office technology support.
Blaylock is a minority-owned, full-service investment bank offering corporate and municipal underwriting as well as equity research solutions on a proprietary web-based platform. The firm did very little public finance banking prior to 2009, but Standifer said it’s been “the fastest-growing part of our business” the past year.
Ceresa is charged with building out Blaylock’s muni finance sales, trading, and underwriting business, which currently includes eight bankers.
The underwriter remains a small player at the national level and ranks 13th among minority-owned firms, but it has seen rapid growth since August when it purchased SBK Brooks, a Cleveland-based investment firm founded in 1992.
“They had a whole swath of deals they were working on in and around Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan,” Standifer said of SBK. “They were very well thought of and very well-entrenched, so it just worked out well for us and for them, too. The customers were willing to just transfer their business.”
The minority-owned firm has not senior managed any deals this calendar year but it has been co-manager on 33 issues totaling $517.1 million, compared with 17 deals worth $534.8 million in all of 2009, according to Thomson Reuters.
In addition to adding 13 staff members through acquiring SBK, Standifer said smaller firms have benefited from the high volume of issuance.
Virtually every entity in the municipal market has been stretched and needed to tap into the capital markets to fund projects.
“Certainly the economic environment has been very conducive,” he said. “The timing for us was extremely fortuitous, there’s no question.”
The firm’s origins date to 1991 when Standifer launched Robert Van Securities. It acquired Blaylock & Co., a financial firm founded by Ron Blaylock, in 2007.