Merrill continues to rebuild placement group

Merrill Lynch has replaced six of the seven placement professionals that left the firm in February to join Lazard Freres.

( Merrill Lynch has confirmed the hire of five new professionals to its fund placement group, following the appointment in March of Christian Dummett, the former head of UK bank Abbey National’s private equity unit, who joined the Merrill’s London office.  

The bank has now replaced six of the seven placement professionals that left the firm in February to join financial services boutique Lazard Freres.

Kevin Albert, who leads the Merrill Lynch placement agency, said the firm is now soliciting new business, which was put on hold after the defections.

Courtney Zierden, a former high-yield finance professional for Merrill Lynch, will be working with Albert in New York.

Other recent new hires include Lisa Chavez, formerly of Pacific Corporate Group, where she covered the New York City retirement systems. The group also hired David Whitehouse, who formerly worked in Morgan Stanley’s structured products division.

Ed Ho, who worked in Merrill Lynch’s fund of funds placement business, and Juan Jimenez, who worked in the origination department, round out Merrill’s new hires.

Merrill Lynch is currently co-ordinating fund raising for Doughty Hanson, the London-based firm which is hoping to raise a €3bn buyout fund. Other Merrill clients include Terra Firma Capital Partners, Intermediate Capital, TDR Capital and Charterhouse Group International in New York. Albert said the firm hadn't lost any existing business after the sales people left the firm.

Initially, managing directors Ben Sullivan and William Riddle resigned from Merrill in February to join Lazard’s New York office. They were later joined by Mike Sutka, Scott Church, Tim O’Gara, Greg Myers, Robert White, Mark Christopher and Fran Lolli.

In April, Merrill Lynch filed suit against Lazard Freres and the group who left, charging the defectors with collusion and misappropriation of confidential information, according to sources.