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Fundamental Brokers Resurrected

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Fundamental Brokers, one of the major inter-dealers in the bond market heyday of the 1970s and 1980s, is back in play and fixed-income veteran Vinny Griffo, president, is leading the charge.

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Fundamental Brokers, one of the major inter-dealers in the bond market heyday of the 1970s and 1980s, is back in play and fixed-income veteran Vinny Griffo, president, is leading the charge. The Fundamental Brokers name has been dormant for several years following its sale in the '80s. But Griffo, who founded the initial incarnation in the '70s, has re-established the firm, known as FBI, as an inter-dealer in New York.

The firm recently resumed buying and selling fixed-income securities including governments, mortgage-backed securities, corporates and emerging markets. In addition to its current voice brokerage operation, the firm plans to soon launch an electronic trading platform, noted Griffo, declining to further detail the new system. Griffo, whom one market participant called a legend of the broker business, was often quoted in the pages of BondWeek during the '80s.

Griffo started FBI in 1970. Within three years, he said, FBI was the number one government bond broker with 300 employees. It subsequently expanded to 1,000 employees and was sold to Mercantile House Holdings in 1980, when Griffo joined Mercantile as an executive director. Griffo left the firm following British & Commonwealth's takeover of Mercantile in 1987. The resurrected FBI is affiliated with Wunderlich Securities, a full service advisory and investment banking firm based in Memphis, Tenn.

As part of its reemergence, FBI has hired seven MBS brokers from First Brokers Securities, headed by Pat Gordon and Don Reynolds, who each join FBI as an executive v.p. Griffo said the team will operate both out of its New York office and a planned office in Minneola, N.Y. Calls to First Brokers were referred to Bob Dower, comptroller, who said the firm does not comment on personnel matters. First Brokers was acquired by ICAP in 2002.

FBI also intends to make a slew of hires across asset classes. Griffo said the firm would like to hire 10 Treasury brokers, three or four corporate brokers, two or three emerging market brokers and is looking to staff a repurchase agreement desk. FBI currently has five Treasury, three corporate and two emerging market brokers.

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