Merrill veteran to head BofA private equity

Bank of America has made 14-year Merrill veteran James Forbes the head of its private equity and real estate business, which includes Merrill Lynch’s $5bn to $6bn private equity division.

James Forbes, a 14-year veteran of Merrill Lynch, has been chosen to head up Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Global Principal Investment business that houses the combined companies’ private equity and real estate arms.

A Bank of American spokesman confirmed the appointment, as first revealed in an internal memo reported by the Wall Street Journal, but would not discuss details. 
Forbes formerly headed the firm’s global healthcare investment banking business. He will move to New York from Hong Kong, where he has worked as head of corporate and investment banking for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the Wall Street Journal report said.

Forbes helped companies raise more than $20 billion in financing, and his clients included Quest Diagnostics, Triad Hospitals and HCA. Forbes joined Merrill in 1997, prior to which he worked for Credit Suisse First Boston, where he worked in debt capital markets focusing on the healthcare industry.

The unit Forbes will lead includes Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity, thought to be worth between $5 billion and $6 billion; and Banc of America Capital and Banc of America Strategic Investments Group, which originates, structures and executes direct equity investments, private equity funds and hedge funds. The business also reportedly includes Merrill Lynch Real Estate Funds. 

It is unclear if the division is a regrouping of or simply separate from the bank's existing private equity and global investment management division, which was created last October after the $50 billion all-stock merger of Bank of American and Merrill. Brian Moynihan had initially been named head of that division.

Merrill did not return a call for comment.