CHICAGO — Hilliard Lyons hired Tariq Malhance, a former Cook County chief financial officer and Chicago Comptroller, to lead its public finance banking activities in the Chicago region and Illinois.

Malhance joined the firm last week as a managing director, according to Alex Rorke, the firm's Chicago-based senior managing director of the municipal securities group.

The 159-year-oid Louisville, Ky.-based firm has been on a hiring spree over the last two years, expanding its banking and advisory business in its broker-dealer division, J.J.B. Hilliard, W.L. Lyons LLC. The firm has added 10 bankers, sales professionals, traders, and underwriters in offices in the Midwest and Southeast to bring its municipal securities group up to 27.

Malhance, a long-time veteran of city and county government, stepped down from the county post earlier this year and was lured out of retirement by Rorke, a veteran banker who was hired by Hilliard Lyons last year to lead the firm's municipal expansion.

"We have frequently worked together on major projects over the years, such as taking the Chicago Skyway out of default and literally billions of dollars in senior managed general obligation financings for Chicago and its authorities," Rorke said in an interview.

Malhance was elevated to the cabinet level position of city comptroller in 2002 by then Chicago Mayor Richard Daley after serving the city as an accountant, deputy city treasurer, and deputy comptroller. He also served as trustee for the city's pension funds.

Malhance retired from city government after 24 years in 2005 and took a position as senior vice president of private equity at Unicorn Investment Bank. He also served as president of UIB Capital. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle tapped Malhance to serve as the county's CFO in early 2011. He resigned earlier this year. "During Tariq's time here he solved more than $1 billion in budget deficits and put the county on a stable financial path," a county spokesman said at the time.

"I was looking for someone in Chicago who was a real leader with an unquestioned understanding of complex financial issues who could look at issuers' concerns and have the understanding needed to help solve them," Rorke said. "After Tariq retired from the county I realized that I was describing him."

Rorke said he's always admired Malhance for his fiscal skills and background. He emigrated to the United States on his own in the 1970s, earned graduate degrees, and then worked in public service. The two will work together to cover Illinois issuer clients.

Malhance said he was enjoying his retirement but was persuaded to return to work "after talking to Alex and learning about the company which has been around for more than 100 years and has a very stable platform." He decided that the position offered a "new and exciting challenge," he said.

Hilliard Lyons said it has completed its first senior managed deals in Ohio and Michigan and was the lead financial adviser in Kentucky for the first half of the year. The firm operates 70 branches in more than a dozen states.

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