Loren Boston joins Merrill placement arm

Citigroup’s former chief fundraiser has moved to Merrill Lynch as head of private equity origination, working under the bank’s fund placement doyen Kevin Albert.

Loren Boston, the former global head of Citigroup Global Market’s private equity fund placement business, has joined Merrill Lynch as managing director and head of private equity origination. A spokesperson for the bank confirmed the appointment yesterday.

Boston’s appointment is coupled with the promotion of Michael Ricciardi to head of private equity sales. Originally a fixed income specialist, Ricciardi joined the bank in January from PaineWebber. His new role is part of a broader mandate to oversee the distribution of alternative investments to institutional clients.

Both Boston and Ricciardi, to the extent that he spends his time on private equity sales, will report to Kevin Albert, Merrill’s highly regarded veteran chief placement agent.

According to a source close to the situation, the management changes are part of the bank’s preparations for an anticipated burst in private equity fundraising activity later this year. The decision to split the origination and distribution functions into two distinct groups with two group heads was part of an effort to ‘beef up’ the bank’s fund placement capabilities, the source said.

There has been speculation among market practitioners that Albert, who joined the private equity funds group in 1990 and has run it since 1993, may choose to retire later this year. Yesterday Merrill’s spokesperson had no comment on his future role at the firm.

For Boston, joining Merrill marks a return to the bank, where he was a vice president of investment banking between 1985 and 1991. He also worked for Barclays de Zoete Wedd, Allied Signal and Bankers Trust Alex. Brown before joining Citigroup in 1999.

Merrill, which once dominated the private equity fund placement market, is in the process of rebuilding its franchise after rival Lazard poached a team of nine placement professionals led by William Riddle and Ben Sullivan in February 2003.

In March last year, the bank put Christian Dummett, formerly a private equity fund investor at UK bank Abbey National, in charge of its European fund placement operations at its London office.

Most recently Merrill worked on the second technology buyout fund of Silverlake Partners, which closed on $3.6 billion in April, and the €1.5 billion leveraged mezzanine fund raised by Intermediate Capital Group in the UK.
Current mandates include Doughty Hanson IV, a pan-European buyout fund which in the autumn of last year held a first closing at €700 million.