Thomas F. O'Neill, a founding principal of Sandler O'Neill Partners, unveiled plans to retire from the New York banking firm — but join a financial services company controlled by MBS co-inventor Lew Ranieri.

"I have decided to retire from Sandler O'Neill and join Ranieri Associates as chairman of Ranieri Partners Financial Services Group," he said in a memo sent out to the firm's employees.

According to a statement released by Ranieri, Sandler will "play an integral role" across his global business platforms, working with the firm's funds and operating companies.

O'Neill will serve as chairman of the holding company of First Allied, a San Diego-based broker/dealer, and he will be chairman of Ranieri Partners Financial Services Group, a company recently formed to acquire and manage firms in the financial services sector.

O'Neill began his Wall Street career at L.F. Rothschild & Co. in 1972. He joined Herman Sandler in Bear Stearns' financial services group in 1985, and became a Bear Stearns managing director and co-manager of the group. The two opened up their own firm in 1988 with the company advising bank and thrift clients on strategic transactions and financings.

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