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Morgan Stanley


has gathered a team of executives from both inside and outside the firm to help beef up its alternative investments group, according to an internal memo reviewed by


Among the heavy hitters from within Morgan are executive director Bob Jordan, who was formerly in the institutional equity division, and his colleagues Ted Restelli, Sean O'Malley and David Swank. The transfers, the framework of which was

reported by

on Thursday, are effective immediately. The four will be joined by Nicholas Del Deo from Giraffe Capital to work in the absolute return strategies group.

Walter Thorman also will join the asset management group on April 24 in the U.S. and Americas distribution group. He will move from Morgan Stanley's fixed-income division and will cover corporate, endowment and foundation clients.

Morgan Stanley also hired a number of fund executives from outside the firm, including Mark Baumgartner from Quantal Asset Management, Kevin Kuntz from Ramius Capital and Larry Berner from Glenwood Capital. Kuntz and Baumgartner will join the firm next Monday and Berner will join the firm Tuesday.

The move comes as the market pressures Morgan Stanley to take steps to transform its asset management business. Executives at the company have stubbornly defended the division at the bank, saying that it believes in the business and will make small acquisitions to help build it up.

"We still are seeing outflows from our proprietary funds, and we have substantial opportunities to further improve our financial results based on the three-year business plans we all put together," Owen Thomas, head of Morgan Stanley Investment Management, said in the memo. "While I am encouraged by the progress we have already begun to make in realizing the full potential of this business, we have a lot more to do."

The moves are the first by Morgan Stanley in asset management since Chief Financial Officer David Sidwell said on the first-quarter earnings call that the firm plans to add individuals and small teams and make small acquisitions to help build out the high-margin alternative-investments business.

In January, Morgan hired Michael Feldschuh from Millennium Partners to run process-driven strategies in a step to stack top management in the group. The company also has a relationship with a hedge fund run by Barton Biggs, founder and former chairman of Morgan Stanley's asset management business, to provide strategies for the group.