Exodus of Top LBO Lenders

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The ranks of Wall Street's top leveraged-buyout bankers are thinning, and not only due to layoffs.

With leveraged deal volume running at a third last year's pace, some of the sector's leading names have left bulge-bracket employers or announced plans to depart. They include heads or co-heads of leveraged finance at Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank and a co-head of high-yield and loan sales at Citigroup, Bloomberg News reported Thursday.

Spokesmen at each institution told Bloomberg they remain committed to leveraged finance. Still, the newswire says the Street is tilting away from financing buyouts, while foreign banks like Barclays Capital and alternative asset managers like Apollo and Blackstone are moving into the breach. Barclays ranked 16th in last year's U.S. league table for leveraged loans.

"Leveraged finance is a cyclical business, just like making steel,'' Ladenburg Thalmann analyst Richard Bove told Bloomberg. "Sometimes you have to shut down the factory and get rid of the people associated with it.''

Among 2008's high-level departees cited in the story:

From Morgan Stanley:

- Ashok Nayyar, co- head of leveraged finance;

- Henry D'Alessandro, listed in a 2006 regulatory filing as head of U.S. sponsors leveraged finance;

- Steven Seltzer, who led syndication of high-yield bonds;

- Michael Hart, the previous leveraged lending chief, reportedly left the bank in January.

From Citi:

- Mickey Brennan, co-head of high-yield and loan sales, reportedly is retiring.

- Edward Crook, a managing director who helped arrange the $25.6 billion buyout of First Data by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

From Deutsche:

- Global leveraged finance chief Michael Paasche plans to depart this year, according to unnamed sources cited by Bloomberg.

- European leveraged finance chief Brian Bassett left earlier this year to join Pearl Group Plc, a UK-based insurance company.

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