CHICAGO - After four years at Assured Guaranty Corp., veteran municipal analyst Patrick Early has returned to his roots in the St. Louis headquarters of Wachovia Securities in its advisory services group.

Early left the former A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc. where he was the manager of municipal research four years ago to take a position at Assured, where he served as a municipal credit officer and director of fixed-income investor relations. Wachovia acquired A.G. Edwards in 2006 and itself is now being absorbed by Wells Fargo & Co.

Early, 44, had spent 16 years at A.G. Edwards during which he published analytic reports on general governmental, specialty, and sector credits and trends. Early relocated to New York to join the insurer with the aim of leveraging his strong relationships and reputation with institutional clients to help build Assured Guaranty's investor base.

Although Early described his experience at Assured Guaranty as a positive one, he said he welcomed the opportunity to return to credit analysis for a broker and the time was right given the dramatic drop in monoline insurers' market penetration following the parade of downgrades last year.

Assured Guaranty is still one of the top-rated insurers, rated AAA by Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's, and Aa2 with a stable outlook from Moody's Investors Service.

"At Assured Guaranty I was doing quite a bit of marketing, so I'm excited about getting back to the core of my career experience," Early said yesterday. Early joined Wachovia as a senior vice president and he will be working on analysis to support the firm's retail brokers and advisers.

"I feel Patrick's many years of experience in the municipal securities market will provide value to our financial advisers and clients in this challenging economic environment," Greg Sigmund, leader of the advisory services group, said in a statement.

Wachovia had lacked a senor municipal credit analyst since the departure early last year of veteran Brian Tournier, who is now with Stern Brothers & Co.

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