NationsBanc Capital Markets Targets Big Investors in West Coast Expansion

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NationsBank Corp.'s capital markets unit hired Michael Lauterbach of Citicorp to head investment-grade bond sales in Los Angeles as part of a West Coast expansion.

NationsBanc Capital Markets Inc. said Lauterbach would establish a team to sell investment-grade bonds to money managers in California. The bank, which employs about 30 people in corporate finance, hopes to increase sales by setting up shop closer to such big West Coast investors as PIMCO Advisors LP and GNA Investors Group.

"California is such a big asset base, and it's 3,000 miles away," said George Ellison, managing director of investment-grade corporate and mortgage-backed securities sales. "I want someone in their back yard." In the past two months, NationsBank has hired John Vota, formerly a principal at Miami-based Dinner Key Advisors, as a director in New York, and Michael Pagano, a mortgage sales associate at Merrill Lynch & Co., as vice president, in Charlotte. Ellison said the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank wants to add mortgage-backed bond sales in Los Angeles and eventually have a bond sales team of four to six people there. The Los Angeles and Boston expansions into less profitable investment-grade products contradicts NationsBank's strategy outlined last year. The bank said then that it would focus on higher-yield products, such as asset-backed securities and junk bonds. In 1996, the bank fired 55 people who mostly worked in low-margin investment- grade and government securities. Several key people, notably high- grade products managing director John Griff, have resigned in recent months. …