Piper Jaffray & Co. announced Monday that 25-year municipal industry veteran Jim Ridenour will be returning to the firm Oct. 1 after a 10-year hiatus. He will be based in Minneapolis and will lead fixed-income middle market sales as a managing director.

Ridenour rejoins the firm after leading the middle-market fixed-income group at RBC Wealth Management, where he had worked since 2000. He previously was manager of municipal institutional sales at RBC, a position he also held at Piper from 1996 to 2000. His career in finance began at Dean Witter in 1981.

Brad Winges, head of fixed-income services, said Ridenour will lead a 35-person team focusing on the distribution of new public finance issues and secondary taxable and tax-exempt fixed income.

“Jim will lead the expansion of the sales group to ensure we have the distribution resources to support the growth strategy of our public finance and fixed-income businesses,” Winges said. “Jim’s experience and penchant for providing exceptional client service make him an excellent fit to lead this group.”

Piper Jaffray, founded in 1895, is the 11th largest U.S. underwriter by volume, according to Thomson Reuters. It has led 357 deals so far this year totaling $4.92 billion. Last year it ranked 10th by completing 530 deals totaling $10.7 billion.

The Minneapolis-based firm adheres to a strategy of working out of offices close to issuer clients. Its 22 regional locations are staffed by some 125 public finance professionals, including more than 60 bankers. Sales and trading operate mostly out of its bigger offices in Minneapolis, New York, San Francisco, and Kansas City.

John Miller, formerly the head of the middle-market sales group who now leads national sales, said the mid-market group hopes to replicate that strategy, potentially by opening new offices. “We’re definitely hiring public finance people in markets where we can get good people,” he said. “That trend continues. We’re going to replicate that with middle-market sales people, whether it’s in current offices of public finance people or new areas.”

Piper is one of many firms that are now bulking up their middle-market presence to make better contacts with institutions that sometimes get lost in the shuffle with some of the bigger underwriters. These include money managers, bank trust departments, bank portfolios, smaller-scale insurance companies, family offices, and registered investment advisers.

“The tier-one market is well covered by almost any firm, including Piper,” Miller said. “Our greatest growth potential will come from the middle-markets client base.” That base is traditionally accessed by underwriters with retail distribution, but Piper sold its private wealth management division in 2006 to UBS AG and has since focused solely on institutional sales.

“Although we have helped fill the void left after selling our retail to UBS in 2006 with other alliances, we would like to align ourselves consistently with the opportunities that exist with our public finance department,” Miller said. “Additionally, we have strong trading niches in several taxable products that complement what can be offered to a wide range of accounts.”

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