Municipal bond underwriter M.R. Beal & Co. announced two new hires Monday to bulk up its public finance practice.

Phyllis Hollis joined as managing director of the firm's taxable sales and trading department, while Osee Pierre joined as vice president of the firm's municipal finance group.

The minority-owned firm, founded in 1988, has been senior underwriter on 21 deals totaling $2.1 billion so far in 2010, ranking it 26th nationally. It has co-managed 154 issues worth $3.9 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.

Hollis is best known as co-founder and senior vice president of Utendahl Capital Partners, a minority-owned investment bank that operated from 1992 to January 2010.

Hollis spent 10 years at Utendahl as a mortgage specialist before moving on to found a New York-based consulting firm, Egerie Consulting, in 2000. Previously, she held fixed-income positions at Smith Barney, Bear Stearns, and Salomon Brothers.

Hollis will "be working very closely" with Jay Alpert, executive vice president and manager of the municipal bond department, said Stan Grayson, chief operating officer of M.R. Beal.

"In the past year and a half, the composition of municipal deals very often involved a tax-exempt component, a taxable component, and a Build America Bond component," Grayson said. "We expect Phyllis to play a leading role as we look to get greater distribution on the muni, taxable, and BAB activities."

The BAB program is set to expire at the end of the month. If it is not extended by Congress, Hollis' role would be more focused on corporate underwriting, an area she has "strategic vision and leadership skills," according to Grayson.

Pierre spent the last two years as a vice president at Siebert Brandford Shank & Co., working with large clients including the Chicago Transit Authority and the Ohio Water Development Authority.

Previously, Pierre was an associate director at UBS for over a year. His career in public finance began at Citi, where he spent three years as an analyst and three years as an associate.

The new hires follow last week's announcement that M.R. Beal recently joined forces with TD Ameritrade to enhance its distribution to a broader base of retail investors.

The partnership was announced last week but has been in effect since the California Department of Water Resources came to market in October with $1.76 billion of power supply revenue bonds.

The issue closed on Oct. 20. M.R. Beal was co-manager of the deal with 24 other banks and sold $10.1 million of the issue to retail buyers, according to Grayson.

"Retail is never the basis for getting a deal done, but it can set the tone for a successful deal," Grayson said, adding that the retail partnership allows the firm to tap into a base of accounts it otherwise doesn't have the resources to maintain. "It sets a tone that in most cases translates favorably to the issuer in terms of price or amount of bonds able to sell."

The firm also hired Reginald Weaver as a senior trader in its equity sales and trading department.

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