JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) has replaced the head of its investment banking group that calls on consumer and retail companies with one of the co-heads of the unit that caters to private equity firms.

Andrew van der Vord, who joined JPMorgan from Deutsche Bank ( symbol) in 2006, has left the bank. Though he worked on a team that advised Altria ( MO) on its purchase of smokeless tobacco maker UST for $11.7 billion in January, van der Vord was not good at bringing in the type of big-name clients that are JPMorgan's main focus, according to two sources, a former colleague and a headhunter. Van der Vord could not be reached for comment.

Replacing van der Vord will be George Foussianes, a former Goldman Sachs ( GS) and HSBC ( HBC) executive who with Karen Simon had been co-head of JPMorgan's financial sponsors group, which calls on private equity firms.

Simon will stay on as co-head, with Larry Alletto, who joined JPMorgan when it acquired Bear Stearns last year, being promoted to replace Foussianes.

Foussianes appears to be the big winner in the shuffle, as JPMorgan is more interested in focusing on large, mostly public companies than in going after private equity related business these days, judging from comments by Doug Braunstein, its head of Americas investment banking, on CNBC a few weeks ago. Braunstein said that though private equity accounted for a third of M&A activity in 2006-2007, it typically represents no more than 5% to 10% of the market.

"Financial sponsors will be an important component of the market, but it really will be strategic acquisitions that drive the market, which is what they've done for 17 of the last 20 years," Braunstein said.

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