BRADENTON, Fla. - Contraction in the bond underwriting business has opened doors for Southwest Securities Inc. to expand into the Southeast, an official with the Dallas-based underwriter and financial adviser said.

The firm has hired two veteran public finance professionals, Cliff Steinhauer from A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc., which recently merged with Wachovia Bank NA, and Joe Niggel, formerly with UBS Securities LLC, which announced the closure of its muni group on May 6.

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