* BofA Merrill hires senior UBS exec Alex Wilmot-Sitwell
* Wilmot-Sitwell to be president Europe, Emerging Markets,
* Move follows defection of dealmaker Andrea Orcel to UBS
* BofA Merrill also appoints new Europe corporate broking
By Victoria Howley and Sarah White
LONDON, April 25 The staff poaching and
counter-poaching between UBS and Bank of America
Merrill Lynch that has enthralled London's financial community
reached new heights on Wednesday when 17-year UBS veteran Alex
Wilmot-Sitwell defected to the US bank.
Wilmot-Sitwell, 51, will be joining BofA Merrill in
the coming months as president of Europe and Emerging Markets,
That job was originally earmarked for top BofA Merrill
dealmaker Andrea Orcel, who barely a month ago jumped ship to
UBS to co-head its investment bank with Carsten Kengeter - a
role Wilmot-Sitwell once held.
"Alex and Andrea are both big beasts," said one BofA Merrill
banker, adding that "the collective view is that this is a good
hire for Bank of America."
Wilmot Sitwell was a senior figure at UBS, though he was
recently stripped of some operational responsibilities when he
moved into the role of chairman of the investment bank around
the time that news of Orcel's impending arrival emerged.
He also ceased to be a member of the UBS executive board.
Orcel shunned the BofA Merrill promotion to join forces with
former colleague Sergio Ermotti, the UBS chief executive who is
leading a revamp of the investment bank after a string of
The moves by Wilmot-Sitwell and Orcel, both veterans of
their respective banks, are symptomatic of major upheaval across
the investment banking industry, which is being squeezed by
tough new regulations and rocky markets.
As well as hiring Orcel - an architect of some of Europe's
biggest European mergers and acquisitions - UBS has taken on six
more heavyweight bankers from BofA Merrill, signalling an
emphasis on the advisory side of the business, at a time when
the Swiss bank's trading activities are being scaled down
UBS declined to comment.
Wilmot-Sitwell had until recently been a key figure for UBS
in Asia Pacific, which he went to run for the bank about 18
months ago, partly to steady the business after a series of
Like Orcel, famed for his extensive contact book,
Wilmot-Sitwell is a key dealmaker. UBS has previously showcased
his involvement in transactions for big companies such as miner
Anglo American and airline British Airways.
His move, announced in an internal memo on Wednesday, will
see him return to London and report to Tom Montag, BofA
Merrill's co-chief operating officer.
Montag praised Wilmot-Sitwell's management experience and
"tremendous global insight", a view echoed by other BofA Merrill
Wilmot-Sitwell will be responsible for driving a more
integrated strategy across Europe and emerging markets. This was
previously managed separately by Orcel and Jonathan Moulds, who
will be retiring this year.
Orcel, a prolific fee-earner, had not been given top
managerial roles at BofA Merrill, though he was asked to add
Moulds' job to his responsibilities just before he left for UBS.
BofA Merrill has also made other raids on UBS staff,
particularly in Asia Pacific, where the Swiss bank is a top fee
earner. A year ago it brought in Matthew Koder, now president
for that region.
Koder has since brought over other key bankers from UBS in
the region, including equities specialist James Fleming.
BofA Merrill on Wednesday also announced a new set-up for
its European corporate broking division, which had been depleted
The firm has hired Michael Findlay from Moelis to run it
alongside Ed Peel, who joined from Nomura last year, according
to another internal memo.
Corporate broking, a British oddity through which banks help
clients liaise with their investors, a service which can then
lead to more lucrative fees on M&A deals for instance, is seen
as a key component of UK investment banking businesses.
The bank has now hired five senior corporate broking
executives since last year, including Peter Luck from UBS. But
former head Mark Astaire recently left for Barclays, and another
former senior corporate broker, Andrew Osborne, was fined by
Britain's regulator in a high-profile market abuse case.