Three of the seven members of the municipal research team at Bank of America Merrill Lynch are leaving the firm amid a reorganization.
Susannah Page and Howard Sitzer are heading out the door, joining head of municipals research John Hallacy, a source confirmed. Hallacy’s departure was announced late Monday.
According to the source, the firm is going in a different direction, changing the emphasis from credit-focused to strategy focused. A message was left with the firm seeking comment.
“We remain committed to municipals research and will be making further announcements in due course,” an official with the firm said in an internal memo.
Only four junior persons remain with the municipal research unit, according to the source, with experience ranging from one to seven years.
BofA Merrill, with a market share of 15%, ranked as the top senior manager for bond transactions the first quarter of 2013, according to Thompson Reuters data published on The Bond Buyer’s website. Through March 31, it was credited with 101 transactions with a combined par amount of $12.2 billion.
Hallacy, a 35-year industry veteran, spent more than 14 years managing Merrill Lynch’s overall municipal bond credit research effort. He became head of municipals research in January 2010. He also spent one year at MBIA as a managing director in global public finance.
Hallacy began his career with Standard & Poor’s.
He is a past chairman of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association municipal credit research committee, and of the Municipal Analysts Group of New York. He has also served on the National Federation of Municipal Analysts board and received an excellence award from that organization in 2001.
Hallacy received all-star recognition from Smith’s Research & Gradings, as did Page, noted for her research on revenue bonds.
Page joined BofA Merrill in July 2011, publishing weekly health care credit and sector commentary.
She created a large database of hospital debt directly placed with banks and published a primer on continuing care retirement communities.
She joined the firm from Fitch Ratings, where as a consultant she analyzed hospital and senior living credits and wrote rating updates.
Previously, Page was an associate director of credit risk management for Depfa Bank and a vice president for Radian Asset Assurance and Financial Guaranty Insurance Co.
Sitzer is known for his high-yield research. Bond Buyer articles referenced his transportation reports on New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and John F. Kennedy International Airport.
In a report last December about the proposed settlement between American Airlines Inc. and JFK Airport bondholders, Sitzer wrote: “In our opinion, this could be a satisfactory outcome for the 2002 and 2005 bonds, but we are not sure that the interests of the 1990 and 1994 bondholders will have been justly served.”
In 2009, when the MTA received aid from New York State, Sitzer wrote that the authority’s bond ratings may have been too high.