Wachovia Corp. has added 11 members to its public finance team since the end of July as it seeks to expand in Florida and the Northeast and adjust to the changing municipal market, the company announced yesterday.

Five of the additions come from Banc of America LLC. Phil Smith, Wachovia's head of government and institutional banking and co-head of municipal products, joined the bank in February, coming over from Bank of America Corp.

The Wachovia hires also include three former bankers from UBS Securities LLC - which shuttered its public finance group in June - and one from Bear, Stearns & Co., which JPMorgan bought this May.

"It's really kind of beefing up what is already a very capable team with A.G. Edwards and Wachovia," Smith said.

The hires cover a broad array of functional areas. Wachovia hopes the additions will help it continue its commitment to aligning both the investment and commercial banking sides of its business for governments and nonprofit issuers, Smith said.

Lisa DeCarlo joined the firm in early August as a senior vice president and chief operating officer based in New York and Charlotte, reporting to Smith. She comes to Wachovia after six years of Banc of America Securities LLC, where most recently she served as principal and chief operating officer of public finance.

Wachovia also brought in a number of bankers to boost its position in the Northeast region, where it currently ranks 10th as a senior manager, working on 70 deals with a par value of $2.3 billion so far this year, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Bob Kinney joined Wachovia in early August as senior investment banker for the region after 23 years at UBS, where he most recently served as managing director in the municipal services group and manager of the New York finance group. Wachovia also hired Arthur Staub as a quantitative banker for the Northeast from Banc of America - where he was principal and national quantitative team leader.

In addition, former UBS banker Pamela Clayton will join Wachovia today as a director based out of New York City. Smith said her experience - specifically as a former head of Fitch Ratings' higher education group - will add to an already strong higher-ed team Wachovia hopes to keep building.

Wachovia also added to its Florida team, bringing in two Banc of America veterans. Twenty-one year veteran David Thorton now heads Florida public finance as a managing director based out of St. Petersburg, after eight years at Banc of America. Based out of New York City, John Generalli joined as a director and senior investment banker for Florida after eight years at Banc of America, where he most recently served as principal covering Florida and Puerto Rico.

Also in Florida, Molly Clark today will join Wachovia as a vice president in St. Petersburg from RBC Capital Markets. Wachovia currently ranks 10th as a senior manager in the state, based on eight deals with a par value of $506.2 million so far this year, according to Thomson Reuters.

Other hires include Andrew Levenson as a director of derivative marketing, from Bear Stearns, Damon Little - formerly of Bank of America - as a director focusing on origination in Charlotte, and Dorian Jamison, who will join the Chicago office as an associate from Siebert Brandford Shank & Co.

In addition, Mitul Foster yesterday took over as head of municipal credit syndication after two years at UBS and 17 years at JPMorgan. With the recent downgrades to monoline insurers and refinancings of auction-rate securities, Foster will help Wachovia navigate a rocky market as it attempts to put its balance sheet to the best use, according to Smith.

"It's something that every major competitor is struggling with - the demand for credit enhancement and liquidity is way up, in excess of the capabilities of most companies," he said. "So I would say it's something that we're trying our best to take care of our best customers and stay there with them in their time of need."

Wachovia will likely hire more bankers once the first quarter of 2009 - and the traditional hiring season - start. The bank has seen the exodus of a number of bankers since it purchased St. Louis-based A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc. last year.

Smith said he expects Wachovia will focus on acquiring talent in certain regions, such as the Northeast, Florida, and California as well as in certain sectors, including health care, higher ed, and transportation. As the hirings at many regional banks have shown, recent layoffs at Wall Street firms could provide personnel for firms willing to dedicate resources to the municipal market.

"This is going to be a tough year for every investment bank, and there's going to be good opportunities if you're looking to grow your business," Smith said. "Wachovia is going to be an investor in the marketplace."

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