Bloomberg News

Citigroup Hires Cantor’s Mike Brennan for High-Yield Sales

October 19, 2011

(Adds Holtz comments starting in 10th paragraph.)

Oct. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Cantor Fitzgerald LP’s head of junk- bond sales, Mike Brennan, is joining Citigroup Inc. as the third-biggest U.S. lender seeks to gain market share after slipping to the fifth-most active underwriter of the debt.

Brennan, 44, a former walk-on football player at the University of Notre Dame who was drafted by the National Football League’s Cincinnati Bengals, previously worked at UBS AG, Credit Suisse Group AG, and joined Cantor’s broker-dealer unit in February 2009. He will work as a high-yield salesman at Citigroup, New York-based spokeswoman Danielle Romero-Apsilos confirmed in an e-mail.

Citigroup, ranked in the top three high-yield underwriters from 2003 to 2007, declined to seventh in the second half of 2010 with 7.4 percent market share after origination to trading staff left the firm. The bank has arranged 8.6 percent of the $207.5 billion of speculative-grade bond sales in the U.S. this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, while profit rose 74 percent in the third quarter to $3.77 billion.

“This is another confirmation that Citi has repaired its reputation,” said Richard Lipstein, a managing director for Boyden Global Executive Search.

Brennan declined to comment and Sandra Lee, a Cantor spokeswoman, didn’t respond to a telephone call or e-mails for comment.

High-yield, high-risk debt is graded below Baa3 by Moody’s Investors Service and lower than BBB- by Standard & Poor’s. Issuance of the debt has fallen to $575 million in October, on track to be the lowest volume since December 2008, Bloomberg data show, after being on record pace for the first nine months of this year. The debt has lost 5.5 percent since the end of July, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch index data.

Citigroup Departures

Citigroup declined in managing high-yield deals after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s collapse in September 2008 froze credit markets and prompted a $45 billion injection from the U.S. government. Vincent Lima, head of Citigroup’s high-yield syndicate for 18 years, left in 2008, while Jonathan Calder, who headed loan sales at the bank, also departed.

In May, the bank said it hired Christopher Abbate from UBS as a managing director for its U.S. leveraged finance unit.

Brennan joined Cantor from UBS in 2009, when the firm hired about 25 employees for its high-yield and distressed team in less than four months, according to a company release from the time. Cantor hasn’t managed any junk-bond sales in the U.S. during the past three years, Bloomberg data show.


Former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz mentioned Brennan in his book, “Winning Every Day: The Game Plan for Success,” published by HarperCollins Publishers in 1998, as a model for the power of positive thinking.

“After his first season, I doubted he would ever play for us, but I liked having him on the team,” Holtz wrote. He was nicknamed “Turtle” and “may have been the slowest athlete I have ever coached,” he wrote.

Brennan impressed the coach as the first one on the field and the last to leave, and rehearsed his assignments until he had perfected them, Holtz wrote.

“Mike not only eventually won a starting position with us, he went on to play four seasons as an offensive lineman in the NFL,” he wrote.

--With assistance from Shannon D. Harrington in New York. Editors: Pierre Paulden, Alan Goldstein

To contact the reporter on this story: Lisa Abramowicz in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alan Goldstein at

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