Raymond James & Associates has been grabbing talent from larger firms ever since the credit crisis tossed and turned the financial world upside down in late 2007.

The St. Petersburg, Fla.-based firm has expanded its public finance team to 41 from 29 bankers in just over two years. The broader fixed-income unit increased its ranks to 340 from 278 people.

“The footprint we have is large, but public finance, sales, and trading have significant growth opportunities — we’re trying to capitalize on doing that in an intelligent fashion,” said Mark Magee, Raymond James’ senior vice president and manager of sales, trading and underwriting.

Seven of the 11 senior bankers hired within the last year jumped ship from UBS Securities, which was the third largest underwriter before it exited the municipal underwriting business amid the turmoil of late 2008.

Two of those additions were George Longo and Timothy Hoover, who in September 2008 created a municipal structured finance department in Raymond James’ Philadelphia office.

“Our primary focus is currently in the alternative energy sector — we’re working on solar, biomass, geothermal, landfill gas and hydro projects,” Hoover said.

The two managing directors had worked together on energy and public power projects at UBS — Longo was there for 25 years and Hoover for 14.

Hoover said the new department works with the non-governmental sector, but many of their transactions qualify for tax-exempt funding due to the purpose of the financing or its location in an eligible zone.

“A number of attractive incentives are offered at the state and federal level, particularly those that are provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,” he said.

The team works on underwriting as well as advising, and said some large deals are in the pipeline. They would not offer specifics on issues they are working on.

“Recently, we have seen a significant amount of activity in renewable and alternative energy,” Hoover said. “In general, the cost to procure and construct a power generation facility or industrial facility is significant — from $40 million to greater than $300 million.”

Magee said the alternative energy projects are an area where advice and depth of knowledge are at a premium, and Raymond James seeks to be a leader in providing unique solutions for the sector.

“We have a strong research group, so it’s a logical dovetail into some of our other businesses,” he added.

Raymond James was ranked 24th among senior managers in the country last year, on 98 deals valued at $2.126 billion. A quarter of those were done in the Southeast where the firm has a 1.5% market share.

Other recent hires in senior positions are in offices in New York, Dallas, and Florida, working on extending the firm’s business in housing, health care, and senior living facilities.

“Where we have an existing footprint we’re expanding there more aggressively and that particularly is in the Southeast, the Northeast, the Midwest and the Southwest,” Magee said.

In New York City, John Feery was named vice president of municipal underwriting in October. He previously spent 24 years with UBS as a managing director. Robin Redford joined the same office as a director in housing finance after seven years in the housing group at UBS. Before that she worked with the Urban Institute’s Housing and Communities Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

In September, the Dallas office hired Barton Withrow to become a director of municipal structured finance for the Southwest.

His background includes a senior banking role with RBC Capital Markets and 11 years doing high-level debt structuring and rebate work for Banc of America Securities and KPMG.

Gary Machak also joined the Dallas office in November after 26 years at RBC. As a managing director for client services, Machak will be responsible for investment banking services related to both housing and general governmental clients.

“Gary adds to Raymond James’ growing presence in Texas and his broad and deep client relationships will be highly complementary to our existing client base,” said David Sutton, manager of municipal structured finance.

In October, Bruce Deskin joined Raymond James to head up health care investment banking in the St. Petersburg headquarters.

He has more than two decades of experience working on nonprofit acute-care hospital clients in the region, mostly recently at First Southwest Co.

Also in October, Walter A. “Skip” Frey 3d was named head of senior-living investment banking in Orlando, Fla. Frey took the job after 17 years at Herbert J. Sims & Co., and he is also the founder of a Maryland-based continuing care retirement community.

Other hires over the last year include Ted Hynes, vice president of municipal institutional sales, and Rich Szalkowski, municipal desk analyst. Both came from UBS and work in New York City.

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