Bank of America Hires for Investment Banking, Commodities

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Bank of America has appointed a new global head of commodities, amid a hiring spree among banks to take advantage of greater activity in the sector, while its investment banking arm has recruited a managing director from Goldman Sachs to its transaction development group.

Richard Prager, formerly Latin America president for Bank of America, has been made global head of commodities. The division covers energy products including oil, gas, electricity and refined oil products and was expanded this year to include base and precious metals.

Prager is a former co-head of emerging market sales at ING Barings and has held a variety of roles since joining Bank of America in 2000 as a managing director in the emerging markets group. He was head of sales and then global head for the group and became chief operating officer for debt products at Banc of America Securities in 2003.

Prager will be based in New York and reports to Tom Connor, global head of liquid products. Connor said: "Commodities are an important piece of our global markets platform and we are committed to growing our business in that asset class."

This month Bear Stearns and BNP Paribas both hired staff to their precious metal groups. Bear Stearns created a team to focus on gold, silver and palladium trading for central banks, mining companies and multinational corporations while the French bank hired five senior base and precious metals marketers for its global commodity derivatives group

Separately, Banc of America Securities, the investment banking arm of Bank of America, has hired Anne Yang for its transaction development group. The group generates merger and financing ideas in order to convert some of BofA's tens of thousands of lending clients into investment banking clients as well, said Harry Van Dyke, head of the group. The team now has between 10 and 15 staff.

Yang is a 20-year veteran of the investment banking business. She has worked at Goldman Sachs for the past six years, where she focused on generating merger ideas in the industrial sector for corporate clients as well as financial sponsors. She started out at Booz Allen Hamilton, Credit Suisse First Boston and Strong Capital Management before joining Salomon Smith Barney's M&A group and helping to found that firm's business development group.

Van Dyke was hired in June to found Banc of America Securities' transaction development group. He reports to Stefan Selig, vice chairman of global investment banking for Banc of America Securities. Van Dyke previously headed the business development effort within Morgan Stanley's financial sponsors group.

Yang will work with recent hires Clark Dees and Shawn Canter, both of whom joined within the past two months. Dees formerly worked with Van Dyke at Morgan Stanley but left the bank to become an independent M&A advisor, working with companies like New York-based private investment group Performax Management. Canter previously worked as a vice president at Goldman Sachs.