CastleOak Securities plans to add a high yield team and hopes to get the group up and running as soon as possible, according to President and CEO David Jones.

The group will initially focus on secondary trading of distressed debt and will not include leveraged loans or underwriting.

The team is part of CastleOak’s effort to expand both its fixed-income capital markets group and enter into new sectors within fixed income and equities. Jones said that now is an ideal time to grow, as the credit crisis has made a lot of financial talent available.

Jones, who was head of investment banking and capital markets at Blaylock & Co. before co-founding CastleOak, said the high yield team will have a minimum staff of four or five. He would not speculate as to the ultimate size of the group. The firm has been rapidly expanding, and Jones said the current staff of 30 could be as large as 50 by June.

Earlier this month, CastleOak hired Barclays Capital veteran Hiram Matthews as head of structured products and former Morgan Stanley vice president Joseph McManus as a member of its fixed-income sales team. Last month, the firm named former UBS director Robert Bacon as a director in its investment banking and capital markets group. CastleOak started a group last November to specialize in managing assets aided by the federal government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

CastleOak is a minority-owned investment bank that offers equity and fixed income sales and trading and financial advisory services. It was founded by Jones and fellow Blaylock veterans Nathanial Christian, who serves as general counsel, and Philip Ippolito, who is CastleOak’s CFO and director of operations. It is headquartered in New York, with offices in Atlanta and Chicago.

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