SAN FRANCISCO — Sensing a growth opportunity,Wedbush Morgan Securities announced last week that it has added five bankers to its ranks in California.

"Wedbush has not experienced the problems that a lot of the investment banks have in terms of exposure to subprime and auction-rate securities," Douglas Charchenko, the firm's senior vice president and head of fixed income, said in a statement announcing the moves. "We see this market as providing significant opportunities to grow our firm and build on our strong capital base."

The Los Angeles-based firm ranked 25th among underwriters in California for 2007, according to Thomson Reuters data, credited with $145 million over 12 issues. It ranked 79th nationally.

The firm has added three bankers who focus on the private higher education market.

Richard DeProspoand John Phan move to the firm's Los Angeles office from De La Rosa & Co., where they covered the private higher education market and also some general municipal credits.

Peter Evans joins Wedbush in San Francisco from Banc of America Securities LLC, where his practice focused on higher ed institutions as well as other nonprofit issuers.

In San Francisco, the firm has added Robert Larkins, most recently of Lehman Brothers, who specializes in California counties as well as other general municipal issuers, with a focus on pension obligation bonds.

In Los Angeles, Wedbush added Richard Clark from RBC Capital Markets, whose practice consists of general municipal credits with an emphasis on redevelopment and land-secured financings.

"These five executives, along with our existing public finance banking staff and our municipal sales and trading professionals constitute one of the strongest municipal finance efforts on the West Coast," Charchenko said.

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