BMO Names Financial Sponsors Chief

BMO Capital Markets has named Dirk Leasure as head of the firm’s financial sponsors group. He joined the firm in 2002, before which he worked in the financial sponsors group of Goldman Sachs.

BMO Capital Markets, the investment and corporate banking arm of BMO Financial Group (NYSE, TSX: BMO), has appointed Dirk Leasure as Head of its Financial Sponsors Group.

Based in New York, Leasure will lead a team of investment bankers based in New York and Chicago who specialize in helping U.S. private equity firms.

The group works closely with private equity firms by providing advisory services as well as acquisition financing when they pursue leveraged buyout transactions. In addition, BMO’s Financial Sponsors Group helps with add-on acquisitions while the sponsor owns the company, and assists with M&A and Equity Capital Markets advice when the sponsor looks to exit from the investment.

“The private equity community remains vibrant and a strong source of investment and corporate banking revenue. As the financial markets and our economy recover, financial sponsors will become an even more active and important client group,” said Dominic Petito, Co-Head, U.S. Investment & Corporate Banking, BMO Capital Markets.

“Serving the needs of financial sponsor clients will help BMO Capital Markets accelerate and strengthen our growth across the full range of industry sectors and product groups. Dirk has significant experience working with financial sponsors and we look forward to his leadership and direction to capitalize on the opportunities before us,” said David Casper, Co-Head, U.S. Investment & Corporate Banking, BMO Capital Markets.

As the markets continue to recover, BMO anticipates a substantial increase in private equity activity into 2010 and beyond. Some of the trends expected to surface within the private equity market include:

* A significant increase in the size and number of transactions involving sponsors looking to exit from successful investments by selling companies from their portfolios as buyers are increasingly able to obtain debt financing
* A notable rise in the size and number of transactions involving sponsors looking to exit from successful investments by taking their companies public via IPOs given the rebound in public equity market values
* A considerable boost in the number and size of transactions where sponsors are buying companies as new investments as the loan and high yield bond markets continue to recover
* Sponsors, particularly in the middle-market, will continue to be more selective in choosing the investment banks they partner with. For example, sponsors will focus even more intently on developing key relationships with those investment banks that can bring them deal flow, provide acquisition financing and have deep sector expertise and execution capabilities.

“BMO is exceptionally well-positioned to benefit from the increase in sponsor activity, which we are already seeing. Consequently, we are excited about the opportunity and believe that adding additional focus and people to this effort will produce substantial rewards,” said Leasure.

Prior to joining BMO Capital Markets in 2002, Leasure spent eight years with Goldman Sachs working with financial sponsors in their leveraged finance group, including two years leading that group’s efforts with financial sponsors in London. Leasure is a graduate of the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia.

About BMO’s U.S. Financial Sponsors Group
A financial sponsor is another name commonly used to refer to private equity investment firms, particularly those private equity firms that engage in leveraged buyout or LBO transactions. BMO’s U.S. Financial Sponsors Group is a highly regarded team dedicated to providing coverage for these investors. The group offers clients a full range of investment and corporate banking capabilities including development of proprietary investment opportunities, M&A advisory, acquisition financing, restructuring and equity capital market services through a single point of contact. For more information visit,

About BMO Capital Markets
BMO Capital Markets is a leading full-service North American financial services provider, with over 2,400 employees operating in 14 North American offices and 27 worldwide, offering corporate, institutional and government clients access to a complete range of investment and corporate banking products and services. BMO Capital Markets is a member of BMO Financial Group (NYSE, TSX: BMO), one of the largest diversified financial services providers in North America with US$385 billion total assets and 37,000 employees as at July 31, 2009.