Fixed-Income Trading Jobs Revive

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Thursday's official unveiling of a bond-centric broker-dealer led by top ex-UBS bankers John Costas and Michael Hutchins marks the latest sign that fixed-income sales and trading careers are alive and well.

The PrinceRidge Group, which sprang into existence early this year under the name VinsonForbes, has 50 employees and counting. "We're building our firm around our core competency, which is first and foremost the fixed income markets and sales and trading," Costas told Investment Dealers' Digest earlier this month. Initially focusing on selling and trading structured products and corporate credit, the New York-based firm ultimately aims to grow into a full-service investment bank. That will require further headcount growth.

The key players at PrinceRidge are:

- Costas, the former head UBS Investment Bank and later of UBS's ill-fated Dillon Read hedge fund, as chairman

- Hutchins, who headed the global fixed income, rates and currencies group at UBS under Costas, as chief executive

- Ahmed Alali, who was a commercial real executive in Dillon Read, as head of investment banking

- Ronald Garner, another Dillon Read commercial real estate trader, as head of structured products sales and trading

- Matthew Johnson, who was Dillon Read's U.S. corporate credit trading chief, as head of corporate credit sales and trading.

PrinceRidge corporate finance heads are former Credit Suisse banker Justin Vorwerk and William Wilson, who was most recently at UBS, according to IDD.

Jefferies, Cantor, Susquehanna, Maxim Add Heads

It's the latest in a string of moves by new and mid-size institutions angling to grab market share from the dwindling ranks of bulge-bracket global banks. While many newcomers and aggressive mid-tier firms concentrate in merger advisory or equity research and trading, it's clear that fixed-income business - including mortgage securities and structured finance - is climbing out of the grave to which many experts prematurely consigned it a year ago.

Jefferies & Co., long a visible player in the bond markets, on Thursday named former Merrill Lynch trader Jon Pliner as head of European credit sales and trading, based in London. Last week Jefferies announced eight hires in its MBS/ABS group, including two London-based co-heads of European MBS/ABS. In July the firm hired a CMBS strategy and risk chief from RBS Greenwich Capital and added US sales teams in Boston and Chicago.

Cantor Fitzgerald, another established fixed-income dealer, says it's made 125 strategic hires this year in debt capital markets, including five additions in European high-yield and distressed debt announced last week. In June Cantor added two whole-loan mortgage specialists and a head of fixed-income rates strategy.

Susquehanna Financial Group, whose initial niche was equity derivatives, is ramping up a corporate bond sales operation led by Frank Gilroy, a recent hire from FTN Financial who spent several years at Goldman Sachs. When announcing Gilroy's move in June, Susquehanna said it expects to add more slots at its offices in Boston, Pennsylvania, Chicago, New York, and California. Its corporate Web site lists 30 job openings as of Aug. 20, including three New York slots in corporate bond sales, trading and research.

Maxim Group recently hired senior-level traders for collateralized debt obligations, credit trading and leveraged finance.