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Dealers aiming to drill deeper with new mining analyst hires Add to ...

Here's an observation about the state of the job market on Bay Street.

In recent months, since last year's bonus cheques were handed out, mining analysts have moved around at a brisk clip. Not so with tech stock analysts. Despite an abundance of unemployed or underemployed talent, you'd be hard pressed to find more than two or three who jumped. What a difference a few years make -- tech talents couldn't go for lunch without getting a job offer in the late 1990s.

RBC Dominion Securities, always a mining powerhouse, added firepower this week by hiring analyst Paul Burchell from First Associates, the operating brokerage house in the Rockwater family. Prior to that, he was at Placer Dome for 15 years and had worked as a consultant.

Mr. Burchell will cover junior gold and silver plays.

He joins Joe Hamilton, an analyst on the senior precious metals stocks who recently came over from Dundee Securities. All this hiring was kicked off when the dealer made precious metals analyst Stephen Walker head of its Canadian research team.

First Associates rebooted part of its coverage of the mining sector, hiring base metals analyst Adam Schatzker from the ranks at TD Securities. He has also worked at Lévesque Beaubien Geoffrion and BMO Nesbitt Burns.

First Associates also made room on its equity desk this week for Mike Lerner, who spent the past five years buying and selling stocks as a BMO Nesbitt Burns trader.

National Bank more national

For years, National Bank couldn't truly claim to be "national" when it came to investment banking. The dealer had a stronghold in Quebec.

But outside this home base, the brokerage house was a second-tier player.

That started to change when National Bank bought First Marathon four years ago, and rolled the operation into its own dealer, Lévesque Beaubien.

The acquisition brought strength in Toronto, and a new reach in the West. Under CEO Kym Anthony, National Bank Financial has continued to build its regional strength.

Last week, National Bank Financial made a big push into the British Columbia market by hiring investment banker Daniel Nocente away from RBC Dominion Securities in Vancouver.

Mr. Nocente will run National Bank Financial's West Coast deal-making as a vice-chairman, and he joins at a time when the house is moving up underwriting rankings and getting more aggressive in areas such as takeovers -- the bank is funding Axcan Pharma's hostile bid for Salix, for example.

This is the fourth vice-chairman that National Bank Financial has hired since the First Marathon takeover. In Toronto, the dealer welcomed Scot Martin, formerly the deputy chairman of Scotia Capital.

Reinforcing the home side in Montreal are new rain makers Pierre Fitzgibbon, who was chief financial officer at Domtar, and Cam DiPrata, also a senior executive at Scotia Capital.

Ex-Magna official pays heed

Magna has a habit of not using financial advisers on its tuck-in style takeovers. However, Magna executives don't seem wedded to that formula when they leave the nest.

James Nicol was president of Magna, then moved to Britain as head of Tomkins, which dominates the wiper blades market. Yesterday, he made his first North American foray, paying $330-million to buy gearbox maker Stackpole, based in Toronto.

RBC Dominion Securities and law firm Osler Hoskin & Harcourt worked with Tomkins on its offer. CIBC World Markets and Aird & Berlis were on the other side of the table, for Stackpole.

awillis@globeandmail.ca

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