Merrill Lynch has hired Bill Gates, formerly of Lehman Brothers, in an effort to expand its loan capital markets group. As first reported last week on LMW's Web site, Gates' hiring comes as Merrill focuses on leveraged finance and moves to increase the group's importance inside the firm, according to a person familiar with the situation. He was previously at Lehman Brothers in the loan origination practice, most recently as head of the European leveraged finance group, but he retired last year, according to a source. The source said Gates will be a managing director, reporting to Jack Mann, global head of leveraged finance origination. A Merrill spokesman confirmed Gates' hire.
Meanwhile,Rick Stoddard, a managing director in loan capital markets at Merrill, with an origination focus, will move to leveraged financed banking. He will concentrate on bond and loan origination and work with sponsors, according to the source. He will continue to report to Mann. Stoddard has worked on contingency-financing deals for TECO Energy, CMS Energy Corp., Qwest Corp. and Alliant Energy in the last year. He previously spent four years in Hong Kong with Merrill as head of debt capital markets. "This will provide Stoddard with the opportunity to broaden out and take on more coverage," a banker said.
"Bill will be a smooth transition in his spot," the banker said of Gates. Gates will provide some extra firepower in the LBO stakes and lending to the industrial corporate space, said another source. An additional benefit is Gates' experience in European leveraged finance, where Merrill has been active. A source said Gates was part of the original loan originations group at Lehman, but went to Europe. By the time he returned to the U.S. there had been changes at Lehman and there was not a spot for him, so he decided to retire. A banker said Merrill will continue to selectively hire on the high-yield origination and loan capital markets side.