September 15, 2009 / 4:24 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 2-Macquarie betting big on Wall Street push

* Hired Peter Kind, Kevin Smith, Steve Mehos in past week

* Australian bank rapidly growing in U.S. capital markets

* Exploiting recent weakness, layoffs at U.S. rivals (Adds detail on other hires, background, recruiter comment)

By Joseph A. Giannone

NEW YORK, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Macquarie Group Ltd (MQG.AX), the Australian investment bank best known for privatizing public roads and airports, is making a big investment in Wall Street.

One year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and 18 months since the demise of Bear Stearns, Macquarie is engaged in an ambitious hiring spree, reminiscent of Switzerland’s UBS when it poached more than 1,500 bankers and traders from U.S. firms earlier this decade.

On Tuesday Macquarie said it was hiring Peter Kind, Bank of America Corp’s (BAC.N) top power industry investment banker. The day before, it announced Kevin Smith, Credit Suisse’s CSGN.VX U.S. mezzanine capital markets head, will run Macquarie’s junk bond business.

Last week, Macquarie hired former Lehman banker Steve Mehos away from Barclays Capital (BARC.L) to lead its newly formed leveraged finance business.

The moves are part of a strategy to create a bona fide investment bank in the United States — a business on par with its presence in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.

“We see significant opportunities in the changing U.S. investment banking landscape and are committed to investing in and expanding our U.S. based advisory and capital markets platform,” Tim Bishop, president and chief executive of Macquarie Capital (USA) Inc, said in a statement Tuesday.

BUYER’S MARKET

Macquarie finds itself hiring from a position of strength. It is expanding its U.S. operations as Wall Street firms slash thousands of jobs and withdraw from out-of-favor activities like structured finance and leveraged lending.

Macquarie has been able to select bankers and traders from Morgan Stanley (MS.N), Credit Suisse, UBS UBSN.VX, Goldman Sachs (GS.N) and others.

Bank of America’s Kind, 25 years on Wall Street, joins as a senior managing director in Macquarie’s U.S. advisory and capital markets business. He will focus on power companies, utilities and renewable energy producers.

Smith meanwhile is a 20-year veteran of leveraged finance and high yield debt at Credit Suisse, Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette, Bankers Trust and Kidder Peabody. Smith joins a team formed by Vice Chairman Robert Redmond, a Lehman banker hired in March.

“When Wall Street cratered, they could take advantage of the demise of Lehman and troubles everywhere on the Street,” said Richard Lipstein of Boyden Global Executive Search, a veteran search consultant who has worked with Macquarie. “They see this as a great opportunity to build their business.”

PARADE OF NEW HIRES

Other major hires this year includes Peter Schellbach, previously at Barclays and Lehman, as head of credit trading, and Tom FitzGerald, head of credit research, from hedge fund firm Brevan Howard.

In investment banking, Macquarie added Doug Reynolds, head of U.S. oil and gas merger advisory from Bank of America; Goldman’s Billy Goldstein, who leads telecom banking; Chris Wofford, Bank of America’s global sector head of transportation and logistics banking; and Stephen Connor, a senior Morgan Stanley executive who joins Macquarie Capital’s energy team.

The bank also hired Chris Striedter as head of transportation and logistics M&A from UBS. Ed Albert, now Macquarie’s co-head of U.S. restructuring practice, joined in July 2009 from Fortress Investment Group.

Stanley Hartt, former Canada Deputy Finance Minister, joined as chairman of Macquarie Canada in March from Citigroup Inc (C.N).

Beyond banking and trading, Macquarie also has been in the news with its pending purchase of U.S. money manager Delaware Investments, energy banking boutique Tristone Capital — which alone added 100 new people — and acquiring Constellation Energy’s downstream gas trading operations. (Reporting by Joseph A. Giannone; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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