Lazard Hires BAML Financial Sponsors Banks

(Reuters) – Lazard (LAZ.N) has hired Fotis Hasiotis from Bank of America (BAC.N) Merrill Lynch to be co-head of its European team advising private equity firms, two people familiar with the matter said.

Hasiotis will be based in London and work alongside Isabelle Xoual in Paris, the people said. He will join in late October, one of them added.

Hasiotis leaves Merrill weeks before the arrival of Rob Firth from Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE). Firth, hired in May and arriving next month, was set to take over from Hasiotis as head of Merrill’s so-called financial sponsors group for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Xoual’s previous co-head, Riccardo Pavoncelli, left Lazard earlier this year to found a private-equity firm, Black Rhino Capital. Pavoncelli, an Italian count, remains a consultant to Lazard in Italy.

Global private-equity backed mergers and acquisitions (M&A) hit $73.4 billion in the first half of 2010, more than double the total for the same period last year, according to Thomson Reuters data. Lazard declined to comment. A Bank of America Merrill Lynch spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment. (Reporting by Quentin Webb; Editing by Hans Peters)