PRIVATE EQUITY | Tony Chua, Australia

CBA beefs up equity business with new hires

2 ex-Merrill Lynch professionals appointment was prompted by lender's successful hiring of 16 people from rivals.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia hired two equity analysts from Bank of America Merrill Lynch as it expands its institutional equities team.

Alice Bennett will join in June to lead coverage of media and telecommunications while Dominique d’Avrincourt starts in May, Commonwealth said in an e-mail to clients and confirmed by the bank. Both analysts will be based in Melbourne.

The appointments come three months after Commonwealth hired 16 people from rivals including Credit Suisse Group AG to research and sales roles as it seeks a bigger slice of an equity offerings market that was worth $28.5 billion last year. UBS AG, Macquarie Group Ltd. and Goldman Sachs JBWere Pty. are the three largest players in Australia and New Zealand with more than 50 percent of last year's underwritings while Commonwealth wasn't in the top 20, according to Bloomberg data.

"CBA are certainly stepping up their commitment to their equities business," said Rhett Kessler, who helps manage about $1 billion at Pengana Capital Ltd. in Sydney. "They seem to be targeting a good mix of experienced and rated analysts. It would appear that the equities analyst role is well and truly in demand again."

View the full story in Business Week.

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