Though the friction associated with the 1998 merger of NationsBank and Bank of America has been relatively slight in the asset-backed groups (compared to other banking arms), in late May, Bank of America officially closed its Dallas-based securitization unit - notably the bank's last remaining product group in Dallas.
The closure was part of the overall geographic consolidation effort on BofA's part, said one source. The BofA securitization groups are now centralized in Chicago, IL and in Charlotte, NC, where group co-head G. Whitfield McDowell is still very much in charge.
The Chicago arm of BofA's securitization group handles corporate and leasing product, and manages corporate obligors. All domestic consumer ABS business is run through Charlotte, including conduits, collateralized debt obligations, and the quantitative and analytic efforts.
BofA also has securitization groups in London, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. Latin American securitization is handled in the Charlotte office.
The Dallas Staff
Former Dallas-based Managing Director Ken Elmgren joined Southwest Securities last week, where, retaining the MD title, Elmgren will be covering the wireless telecom space. Meanwhile, Vice President Scott Bell has moved up to BofA's Chicago office, reporting to group head Lon Grubb.
In May, from Elmgren's group, Steve Hennessee and Joel Gedroic moved over to Banc One's securitization team in Dallas. At Banc One, the two joined analyst Matt Zimmerman, who had also come from the NationsBank team.
"This is a natural progression of NationsBank/Bank of America, that, as they have acquired other institutions which are spread out geographically, they've constantly tried to cull locations," said an insider at BofA.
Similarly, when NCNB (North Carolina National Bank) bought C&S Sovran in 1992 (the combined entity becoming NationsBank), Atlanta was a very central location, and became less important over time, the source explained. The same consolidations happened when NationsBank acquired Barnett in Jacksonville FL, and Boatmans in Saint Luis in the 1996-1997 time frame.
"The way I see it, it was just time for Dallas, and maybe for San Francisco," the source said, referring to recent consolidation and senior-level restructuring that has occurred in San Francisco.
So Long Elmgren
As an original member of Standard & Poor's Ratings Services' securitization group in the mid-80s, Elmgren was one of the earliest players in the ABS industry. Similarly, Elmgren was part of Chemical Bank's initial securitization team, and an instrumental part of Citicorp's team during the early 90s when securitization was being heavily scrutinized by banking regulators.
In the mid-90s Elmgren returned to his native Texas to establish the Dallas-based securitization team for NationsBank which covered the Southwest and Western U.S.
In Dallas, Elmgren's group was primarily involved in corporate and trade-type deals, including monetizations in the energy, telecom and technology areas.
"To be honest, I was sad to leave the platform," Elmgren said. "A lot of this was a personal decision on my part to get up to speed on the new technology. A lot of it was the new challenge. And I wanted to stay in Dallas."