BofA Merrill Lynch has hired four senior FIG bankers, one from the beleaguered bank that is Citi, one from HSBC - where people still appear to be waiting for salaries to be increased, one from RBS, and one from Natixis.
The additions appear to be focused on corporate banking coverage rather than explicit deal making, but their arrival reflects BofA Merrill's ongoing enthusiasm for senior relationship types.
"Now that Meissner's arrived you're going to see more heavy hitters going to BofA Merrill this year," predicts one senior investment banking headhunter. "Meissner's a great figurehead and a great man manager and people will want to join him," he enthuses.
BofA's new hires coincide with a speech by Brian Moynihan in which he revealed that BAML has hired nearly 400 people in Europe this year, and harbours aspirations to derive 50% of its investment banking fee revenues outside the US (up from 25% currently).
Meanwhile, headhunters say the exodus from Citigroup is likely to continue. Ironically, alongside low pay, diminished deal flow and disinterest in Western Europe, Citigroup's M&A bankers are said to be miffed by attempts to make them work more closely with corporate bankers - something which caused problems following the inception of BAML, but now seems to have been resolved.
At Citi, the door for replacement hires is reputedly 'still open', although no one big's likely to walk through it until 2011. The good news for Citigroup bankers, however, is that the departure of rainmakers is clearing the deck for promotions.
"Citi have got a relatively good bench of juniors," says one headhunter with
intimate knowledge of their business. "They were very overstaffed at the MD and senior level, but all these exits have created opportunities for people to move up and for VPs and directors to take on more responsibility."