BRADENTON, Fla. — Memphis-based Morgan Keegan & Co. has hired Rob Larkins as a managing director to head up the firm’s new public finance office in San Francisco.

Larkins, a 26-year veteran of muni banking primarily in the western part of the country, will also lead recruitment efforts for the new office’s bankers, according to Rob Baird, president of the firm’s investment banking division.

“The opening of our California office is further evidence of Morgan Keegan’s continued commitment to growing our public finance platform,” Baird said. “Rob is the person we’ve been looking for to lead this effort in California and the western part of the country.”

The new office should be fully functional in 60 to 90 days, he said.

“Rob is well known in the state and respected as a very talented investment banker,” Baird said. “We’re confident his extensive knowledge of this market … will help us achieve our goal to be a leading underwriter of municipal bonds in this area of the country.”

Larkins most recently worked at Wedbush Securities Inc. in San Francisco, where he helped lead an expansion of the municipal business, according to a release. Before Wedbush, Larkins spent five years at Lehman Brothers and 15 years at Morgan Stanley, where he worked with Don O’Brien focusing primarily on California counties, cities and special districts.

Larkins also led the national pension financing and tobacco securitization efforts at Lehman and Morgan Stanley.

“Combining Rob’s experience and talent with Morgan Keegan’s extensive distribution capabilities will be incredibly effective for issuers,” said O’Brien, who joined the firm in 2008 as a managing director for new business development in the fixed-income capital markets division.

“We couldn’t be more excited about building our platform in California and throughout the west under Rob’s leadership,” he said.

Larkins is a graduate of Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

In the first three quarters of this year, Morgan Keegan was the eighth-ranked underwriter nationally on 158 transactions with a par amount of $4.6 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.

Morgan Keegan is a full-service brokerage and investment-banking firm, and a subsidiary of Regions Financial Corp.

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