CHICAGO -Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. has hired longtime St. Louis-based public finance banker Laura Radcliff from A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc., now known as Wachovia Securities, in a move that provides a strong boost for the firm's general government and economic development practices.

Radcliff, 45, joined St. Louis-based Stifel earlier this month as a senior vice president, ending a 14-year career as a director at A.G. Edwards, where she focused on general government work and economic development deals. She is considered one of the top local bankers on tax increment financing and other development structures. She previously worked in government in economic development and urban planning positions for St. Louis County and Kansas City, Mo.

"We're very excited about Laura's decision to join Stifel Nicolaus," said Peter Czajkowski, senior vice president and director of public finance. "She provides a unique combination of general municipal finance experience and economic development expertise. After 14 years in the industry, she has developed a reputation as an excellent investment banker. We look forward to the valuable contribution she will make to the Stifel team."

The firm has been expanding in recent years, hiring additional brokers and sales professionals, while its banking hires have been more limited, with a focus on adding those that can contribute to the firm's distribution capabilities, Czajkowski said.

Radcliff, who left Edwards on good terms, said she made the move because Stifel provided a better fit for her skills and client base.

"I had a wonderful career during my 14 years at A.G. Edwards. The merger with Wachovia, however, prompted a number of firms to contact me about opportunities elsewhere. It quickly became apparent that Stifel was the best fit for my clients, particularly because of their great execution of economic development deals," she said. "Stifel is a much smaller firm than Wachovia, giving me the opportunity to be far more nimble, far more responsive. And there is tremendous depth and expertise here, with 11 bankers in the St. Louis office alone."

The firm employs 41 public finance professionals and 30 traders in its seven public finance offices in St. Louis, Denver, Edwardsville, Ill, Wichita, Birmingham, Michigan, Baltimore, and Milwaukee.

Stifel ranked first so far this year in Missouri and 30th nationally, while Wachovia - which completed its merger with Edwards last summer- ranks fourth in Missouri and 12th nationally , according to Thomson Financial. Stifel ranked 10th last year in Missouri among senior managers compared to Wachovia's third place finish. In 2006, Stifel finished 15th and Wachovia fourth. Nationally, Wachovia was 12th last year, compared to Stifel at 28th. In 2006, Stifel ranked 21st and Wachovia 11th.

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