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Baird investment bank opens Charlotte office

Baird, a Milwaukee-based investment bank and wealth management firm, said Monday it has opened a Charlotte office after hiring two former Wachovia Corp. bankers.

Brian McDonagh will serve as Baird's co-head of mergers and acquisitions, while also focusing on the industrial market sector that was his speciality at Wachovia. Joe Pellegrini will serve clients in the consumer sector, specifically in the retail, branded apparel and footwear segments.

Baird's new office at 401 N. Tryon Street will be the firm's 11th location. Frank Stokes, a managing director in the health care investment banking group, will also be based in the Charlotte office. Stokes joined Baird from Wachovia in 2007 and had been based in Chicago.

Baird is the latest investment bank focused on mid-sized corporate clients to set up shop in Charlotte. In the past year, Jefferies Group Inc. and Lazard have both opened offices with former Wachovia bankers. Other firms such as McColl Partners and Edgeview Partners were founded here by bankers who once worked for Charlotte's big banks, Wachovia and Bank of America Corp.

In an interview, McDonagh said Baird didn't have specific plans to add people but will be on the lookout for bankers who fill needs. With Bank of America buying Merrill Lynch & Co. and Wachovia being sold to Wells Fargo & Co., it's likely the firm will be able to nab talented professionals that might lose jobs or be asked to move to locations outside Charlotte, he said. “Baird is a good example of a significant firm that looks at Charlotte as a big positive,” he said.

McDonagh, who has 25 years of experience in mergers and acquisitions, led Wachovia's industrial growth M&A group. Pellegrini, who played in the National Football League for five years, led the retail and soft goods investment banking practice at Wachovia.

Rick Rothacker

Merrill Lynch CEO: ‘Thousands' of jobs to be cut

Merrill Lynch & Co. Chief Executive Officer John Thain said he expects “thousands” of job losses from the bank's $50 billion takeover by Charlotte's Bank of America Corp. Most of the cuts will fall in information technology, operations and “corporate functions,” Thain, 53, said in Dubai on Monday. Jobs in the fixed income and commodities divisions won't be eliminated after the deal, he said.

“We haven't mapped it out in terms of actual number of people, but we are committed to saving $7 billion across the combined platforms, and that will be a challenge,” Thain said. “Between our two companies it will be clearly thousands of jobs.”

Thain turned to Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis last month after a crisis of confidence in Wall Street firms forced Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy and raised speculation Merrill could be vulnerable. In an effort to rein in costs, the firm has already cut more than 5,000 jobs in the past 18 months — taking its head count to about 60,000.

Bloomberg News
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