- Bank of America has been upgrading its investment banking team that covers financial institutions over the past year.
- The firm recently poached Jerry Wiant, a top dealmaker focused on banks and specialty finance, from Credit Suisse.
- Another managing director in the group, Debra Coleman, is leaving the firm.
- BofA poached several other high-profile dealmakers for the group in the past year — including Gary Howe, Wiant's boss when he worked at Lazard.
- Wall Street has been expecting more deal activity from the banking sector, but M&A has plummeted across the board in 2020.
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Bank of America continues to shake up its dealmaking team that focuses on mergers and acquisitions in the finance sector, poaching a top investment banker from Credit Suisse as another managing director in the group heads for the exits.
After less than a year leading banking M&A at Credit Suisse, Jerry Wiant is packing up again to join the team at Bank of America, where he'll run coverage of banks and specialty finance in the Americas, according to an internal memo seen by Business Insider.
Before his short stint with the Swiss lender, Wiant was at Lazard for two years and with RBC for eight years before that.
A veteran of the financials space, Wiant has advised on over $100 billion worth of deals, according to the Credit Suisse memo last summer announcing his hire.
He'll report to Americas financials coheads Will Addas and Gary Howe, who was Wiant's boss when they worked together at Lazard.
A Bank of America spokesman confirmed the contents of the memo but declined to comment. A Credit Suisse spokesman declined to comment.
Other changes are brewing in BofA's financial institutions group.
Debra Coleman, an MD, is retiring from the firm, according to people briefed on the matter. She joined Merrill Lynch in 2003 and was with Sandler O'Neill for several years before that.
Brad Kleinsteuber, an 18-year veteran of the firm, was promoted in June to head of insurance investment banking in the Americas, according to a memo from Addas and Howe seen by Business Insider.
Read more: After flashy hires and a big buildout, Perella Weinberg's media and telecom team has been gutted. We tracked the exodus — and what it says about the landscape for blockbuster M&A deals.
Anticipating an M&A spree in banking
BofA has made several big hires in the past year to upgrade its financial institutions coverage, as dealmaking has started to heat up in the sector and big banks are once again hunting for trophies.
The firm hired Janis Vitols from Barclays last summer to run global asset management investment banking. A couple of months later, Lazard veteran Gary Howe joined to cohead the financials group in the Americas alongside Addas.
In early 2019, BB&T and SunTrust merged in a $28 billion tie-up — the largest banking deal in a decade and a sign to many on Wall Street that more consolidation was in the offing.
While no other deals of that magnitude have surfaced, banks haven't sat idle. Morgan Stanley announced in February it would buy E*Trade in an all-stock deal valued at $13 billion at the time.
At its annual shareholder meeting in February, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said the bank would be more aggressive in looking at acquisitions.
"The door is open for people to be a little more ambitious and aggressive in how they deploy capital with acquisitions," Dimon said, according to a transcript provided by financial data platform Sentieo.
In March, Goldman Sachs CEO Stephen Scherr said his firm was "very open" to acquisitions, and then a couple months later bought digital wealth-management boutique Folio Investing. A year earlier, Goldman spent $750 million to acquire another wealth management firm, United Capital.
But in aggregate, M&A has hit an icy patch in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting market unrest.
Dealmaking has been "deeply affected and reached its lowest activity for at least the past 15 years" in the first half of the year, according to Dealogic, with $1.1 trillion worth of deals — a 49% drop in deal volume compared with last year.
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