JPMorgan has hired Jose Pagan to run the firm’s public finance operations in south Florida.

Most recently with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Pagan has spent about 25 years in public finance banking, working for such firms as Lehman Brothers and UBS.

Pagan will join a team of four bankers — the others are Nathaniel Johnson, Kyrle Turton, and Henry Reyes, who will continue to serve as head of public finance in Florida — based in Orlando and Miami.

Pagan has “been a leader in South Florida public finance for many years, and as we looked to strengthen our Florida presence, he was a natural first guy to go to,” said Robert Dailey, who heads the firm’s public finance operations on the East Coast. “We’re glad to be able to take advantage of his great experience and numerous, long-standing relationships.”

Pagan has participated in structuring more than $50 billion of deals in Florida, the company said, including advance refundings, derivative structures, and both taxable and tax-exempt debt.

Pagan’s underwriting experience includes work for municipalities and school districts in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties, the company said.

JPMorgan has vaulted to the top spot among municipal underwriters in Florida in 2010, according to Thomson Reuters, dislodging Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

JPMorgan has underwritten 11 deals with $2.65 billion in face value in Florida so far this year, according to Thomson Reuters.

The company worked on the Florida Citizens Property Insurance and Florida State Board of Education issues in March, and last month’s revenue bond deal for Miami-Dade International Airport.

The $525 million airport sale helped illustrate the robustness of demand for municipal bonds in Florida, according to Dailey.

“It went extremely well,” he said. “We had no problem finding buyers at these low rates.”

The deal had $270 million in retail orders, which Dailey said “is a huge number.” It also had 54 institutional bids — 33 of them from institutions that had not previously owned the credit.

“The fact that 33 didn’t own this credit before speaks to the attractiveness of this kind of paper,” he said.

Dailey said the expansion of the public finance office in Florida is reflective of a company-wide commitment to the state.

He pointed out that JPMorgan is continuing to integrate its acquisition of Washington Mutual, which has more than 250 branches in Florida.

JPMorgan also hired former U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez to be chairman of Chase Bank’s Florida operations, among other roles.

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