RBC Capital Markets has hired five single-family housing bankers formerly employed by UBS Securities LLC, expanding its housing business less than a month after it took a similar opportunity to expand its health care practice.

RBC announced the appointment of Michael Baumrin and Peter Nolden as managing directors in the housing group. Baumrin will be co-head of the group, working alongside Helen Feinberg, who has been with the firm since 2004.

The investment bank also hired Mina Choo and Derek McGreal as directors, as well as Lorry Palacios as a vice president. All three will be based in San Francisco along with Nolden, while Baumrin will be based in New York.

Chris Hamel, head of municipal finance for RBC, said the new hires presented a "tremendous opportunity" to fill a strategic priority for RBC's municipal group: to expand its housing business.

"We have been for a while looking for the kind of talent that became available as a result of the UBS decision," Hamel said. "RBC very much likes the muni business and has a proven track record of taking steps to expand that commitment. Consistent with that and consistent with our strategic plan we identified this group for our platform."

Baumrin was head of UBS' housing group, where he had worked for the past nine years. That followed 18 years at Merrill Lynch & Co., according to RBC. He will manage the firm's single-family housing efforts across the country, working with clients at the state and local housing agencies.

Nolden will be the senior single- and multifamily housing banker in the western U.S. He had been with UBS since 1980.

The new hires join the seven former Bear, Stearns & Co. health care bankers hired by RBC at the end of June, and expands the firm's presence in two sectors known for their reliance on derivatives and other "balance sheet products," Hamel said.

"We view the issuing needs of these two sectors as continuing and expanding in the near to medium term," Hamel said. "Secondly, these kinds of clients are more active users of municipal products and that is an area of focus for us given the high credit quality of our balance sheet."

Hamel also cited pending congressional legislation that could be favorable for single-family deals as another factor in RBC's decison to expand its housing business.

The UBS hires bring experience as top-ranked housing bankers, with the firm having held down the number-one position in the past several years. In 2007, UBS was the number one ranked underwriter for housing deals, completing 125 issues for total volume of $4.5 billion, according to Thomson Reuters. During the same period, RBC ranked ninth, underwriting 50 deals for a total volume of $1.1 billion.

Through last week, the now-defunct UBS public finance unit had slipped to ninth, while RBC was ranked 12th.

Though Hamel declined to provide specifics, he did say that the firm continues to interview other bankers who could be a good fit for RBC's public finance strategy.

"We are always in the market to expand our business," he said.

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