Memphis-based Vining Sparks has recently hired a number of sales and trading professionals from Banc of America Securities LLC as it makes a bigger push into the municipal market.

The firm follows a number of others that have sought to capitalize on the disruption amid the credit crisis at some of the parent companies of the market's largest financial institutions. Many firms have used the mergers, layoffs and, in some cases, uncertainty at the largest banks to expand their municipal groups.

"There's talent leaving the large investment banks for a whole host of reasons," said Jim Burton, who joined Vining from Banc of America. "But given all the restrictions that are being placed on these firms because of the TARP money that they've taken, people are looking for a more entrepreneurial bent."

Burton earlier this year joined Vining in Charlotte, N.C., as director of institutional municipals and a senior vice president. In addition to his time as a principal at Banc of America, Burton has also worked at Advest and Interstate/Johnson Lane.

A number of other sales and trading veterans have also started with Vining as senior vice presidents, all from Banc of America.

Former Banc of America managing director Kevin Fitzpatrick now trades long and high-yield bonds for Vining in New York. He has also worked at Morgan Stanley and Bear Stearns in the past.

Also in New York, former Banc of America principal Chris Moran trades intermediate bonds for Vining. He joined Banc of America after many years at Goldman, Sachs & Co.

On the sales side, former Banc of America institutional sales manager Paul Lozzi joined Vining, as did former principal Michael Crowe. Both will work with Burton in Charlotte.

The privately held, employee-owned firm already had 10 municipal sales specialists, two traders, and one competitive underwriter in its muni group. Vining also plans to make hires on the public finance banking side, Burton said.

Vining last year served as the senior manager on five deals with a par value of $36.9 million, according to Thomson Reuters. As a co-manager, it worked on 23 deals with $63.4 million.

It has public finance professionals in New York, Memphis, Charlotte, Chicago, and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Burton said.

Jim Vining founded the firm in 1981. It originally provided services to community banks, but has since expanded.

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