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BofA hires two former Merrill execs

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Bank of America Corp. said Monday that former Merrill Lynch executives Sam Chapin and Todd Kaplan are returning to serve as executive vice chairmen of its global banking operations.

The two investment bankers have a long history with Merrill Lynch, which was purchased by Bank of America in January 2009.

Chapin spent 26 years with Merrill, serving as a vice chairman and member of the executive client coverage group from 2003 to 2009.

Kaplan logged 22 years at Merrill, where he was in charge of the global principal investments unit. He most recently served as the investment banking head at Citadel Investment Group.

The two executives were among a larger group of veteran investment bankers who left before and after the heavily scrutinized acquisition was completed.

The bank faced several regulatory investigations into the Merrill Lynch acquisition, including federal and state demands for information about the billions of dollars in bonuses paid to Merrill Lynch employees just before the deal was sealed.

Bank of America was among hundreds of banks that received government support through the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. The bank received $25 billion as part of the initial round of investments when the credit crisis peaked in the fall of 2008. It received an additional $20 billion in January 2009, shortly after it acquired Merrill Lynch.

On Monday, a federal judge approved a $150 million settlement between the Securities and Exchange Commission and Bank of America over civil charges accusing the bank of misleading shareholders about the bonuses and billions in losses at the New York-based investment bank.

Ken Lewis stepped down as CEO from Bank of America on Dec. 31, weeks after the bank repaid $45 billion in government loans. Lewis, and Joe Price, who was CFO at the time of the deal and is now head of BofA’s consumer banking division, still both face civil charges from the New York State Attorney General’s Office regarding the Merrill deal.

Recently the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank has been hiring and rebuilding the investment banking unit.

Employees are returning to a somewhat different company.

“These guys are coming back because they can, or because it might be hard to find jobs elsewhere,” said Gary Townsend, president of private investment group Hill-Townsend Capital Inc.

Townsend said because Bank of America repaid TARP in a timely manner, the bank did not face any restrictions on bonuses payments paid to its employees.

“Investment banking remains a competitive landscape,” he said, adding that the 2008 bonuses Bank of America paid in 2009 ended up pretty good. “Who knows what 2010 will bring.”

Bank of America Merrill Lynch now serves as the marketing name for the global banking and global markets operations of Bank of America, which the two executives will be a part of. Both men will report to Tom Montag, president of Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Banking and Markets.

Chapin, who will work from New York, and Kaplan, who will be in Chicago, will be responsible for strengthening client relationships.

Chapin and Kaplan are among a flurry of personnel announcements at Bank of America, which tapped Alastair Borthwick and Lisa Carnoy to jointly lead its global capital markets division earlier this month.

Borthwick was formerly head of global investment grade capital markets, a position he held since joining Bank of America in 2005. Carnoy, a 15-year veteran of Bank of America, was most recently head of global equity and equity linked capital markets.