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The Bank of Montreal building in downtown Toronto is shown on Tuesday, January 28, 2014.

Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Bank of Montreal's capital markets arm has hired a new head for its U.S. energy acquisition and divestiture business, filling a hole created by employee departures earlier this year.

Geoff Roberts, a petroleum engineer who most recently ran his own advisory firm and has previously worked on A&D for Randall & Dewey and Madison Energy Advisors, is joining BMO Nesbitt Burns in the dealer's Houston office. He will report to Jon Marinelli, U.S. group head for energy.

The hire comes after a team of 15 energy banking specialists working in BMO's Houston office left for UBS AG in March. Despite the large number of departures, many were junior employees and the group also had not brought in much deal flow, so news of the shakeup barely registered in Calgary.

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Still, BMO is committed to its energy business, and that meant the team had to be replaced. Hiring Mr. Roberts proves that BMO believes in its growing global footprint, which includes A&D teams in Calgary and London.

Many investment banks hoped that the fall in energy prices would spur oil and gas deal flow in 2015, but so far activity has been muted because producers and developers have focused on operational issues. They also have trouble predicting when energy prices will stabilize.

Because the market is so volatile, only 137 energy deals were inked in the second quarter, according to the International Energy Agency. The total marked the lowest number of transactions since the fourth quarter of 2008.

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