CHICAGO — Two former Raymond James & Associates Chicago bankers have resigned to join Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. with the goal of bolstering the firm's business with big issuers in Illinois and complementing its Midwestern and national public finance practice as it seeks to expand its fixed-income business.

Omar Daghestani and Jeremy Newtson recently resigned from the St. Petersburg, Fla., firm now known as Raymond James/Morgan Keegan and will start at St. Louis-based Stifel in Chicago, once their garden leave expires in the coming weeks. Daghestani joins as a senior vice president-managing director and Newtson joins as a first vice president.

The two are headed to the rival that lost out to Raymond James in a bid to acquire Morgan Keegan & Co. from Regions Financial earlier this year. The deal recently closed and the firms have announced the structure of their integrated fixed-income and public finance division.

Daghestani and Newtson's departures follow the move last month of Raymond James' former head of fixed income, James Augustine Jr., to Stifel, where he took over as chief operating officer of the institutional fixed-income division.

Daghestani and Newtson joined Raymond James last summer as it sought to expand its position in Chicago and the greater Midwest as a strong middle-market participant to a senior manager for large government issuers. They previously worked together at Barclays Capital. The two first worked together at UBS.

"We think clearly Omar and Jeremy will be a great complement to our Illinois and upper Midwest practice with large issuers and nationally," said Stifel's director of public finance, Peter Czajkowski.

The firm continues to eye additional banking hires. It has steadily opened new offices and added to its banking team in recent years. It received a major staffing and business boost with last summer's acquisition of Stone & Youngberg LLC. However, with a growing municipal sales force and private client group, the firm needs additional banking staff to match its national distribution network.

"We are actively looking for opportunities. We like to grow patiently where we think we have the opportunity to bring in good partners," Czajkowski said.

Stifel ranks fifth so far this year among senior managers in the Midwest, compared to Raymond James Morgan Keegan's 19th position. Stifel finished last year in fifth place and Raymond James came in 16th. Nationally, Stifel is in 12th place so far this year behind the merged firms in ninth place. Stifel finished last year in 10th place nationally compared to Raymond James/Morgan Keegan's ninth place, according to Thomson Reuters.

Neither banker could be reached for comment. Sources said the two made the move to take advantage of an opportunity to establish a stronger presence for the firm in Illinois and to enhance its national banking and advisory practices.

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