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Bank of America Rehires Two Merrill Execs

Bank of America has rehired two former Merrill Lynch investment bankers, bringing Sam Chapin and Todd Kaplan back into the fold.



) --

Bank of America

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Monday brought two former Merrill Lynch senior investment bankers back into the fold.

Sam Chapin, a 26-year Merrill veteran who left shortly before the company was acquired by Bank of America at the start of 2009, and Todd Kaplan, who left Merrill after 22 years in November, will both rejoin the bank, reporting to investment banking head Tom Montag, according to a company press release.

Chapin and Kaplan were among the many senior Merrill executives who left the company after the deal with Bank of America was struck in September 2008, including former Merrill boss John Thain, who had initially planned to stay. Thain

recently resurfaced

atop a restructured

CIT Group

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The hires may be a sign that new Bank of America boss Brian Moynihan is a bigger fan of investment banking than his predecessor Ken Lewis. Though Lewis bought Merrill, my impression was that he was far more interested in its "thundering herd" of retail brokers than its high-priced investment bankers.

Before the crisis drove Merrill into his lap, Lewis and his Charlotte, N.C.-based brain trust often clashed with leaders of the investment bank, who were based in New York. Though Lewis has always contended his infamous statement that he "had all the fun

he could stand in investment banking," was taken out of context, I thought it spoke volumes.

Nonetheless, and despite all the defections, Bank of America's investment bank was a major asset to the company in 2009, rivaling and even besting competitors like

Goldman Sachs

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JPMorgan Chase

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in several key businesses. Referred to on the balance sheet as "Global Markets," it contributed $7.18 billion to Bank of America's earnings, more than twice as much as any of the other five main segments. Its $20.63 billion in revenue for the year was third, after Global Banking and Global Card Services.

Jonathan Finger, a partner at longtime Bank of America shareholder

Finger Interests Limited

, believes Lewis was a bigger fan of investment banking than I gave him credit for, and he expects much the same approach under Moynihan.

Despite the high-profile hires, Bank of America's desire to make up with former Merrill alumni apparently may have its limits, according to a report from Charlie Gasparino at


. Gasparino reports that former Merrill President Greg Fleming, now at

Morgan Stanley

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believes he is owed $20 million by Bank of America and that he "will first seek the money through negotiations." Gasparino cites "people close to" Fleming for his information.

A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman declined to comment on the


report, and a call to a Merrill spokeswoman was not returned.

In other Merrill-related news, a

federal judge approved a $150 million settlement

between the company and the

Securities and Exchange Commission

related to lawsuits stemming from the disclosure of losses and bonus payments at Merrill.


Written by Dan Freed in New York