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Bank of Montreal's head of investment and commercial banking is set to retire after 19 years with the firm, during which time he helped push BMO into one of the 20 busiest firms in the world.

Bill Butt, who joined what is now BMO's capital markets unit in 1993, is stepping back effective April 1. The bank has not yet named a replacement for Mr. Butt, whose official title is executive managing director and global head, investment and corporate banking, "It's been a great run," said Mr. Butt, who said he has no immediate plans for life post-BMO.

Indeed, in the past two years BMO has finished at or near the top of the rankings for businesses that Mr. Butt oversees.

In 2011, BMO was third in the Thomson Reuters rankings of busiest banks for helping Canadian companies sell new stock, and second in the business of advising on mergers involving Canadian companies. That followed a year in 2010 when the firm was the busiest adviser on merger deals measured by dollar value, and the biggest underwriter of stock sales.

What's more, the bank does an increasing amount of business outside Canada.

In rankings of global investment banking fees, BMO is one of only two Canadian banks to make the top 20 last year. The firm soared four spots to the 20th slot on a 21 per cent increase in fees to $720.8-million (U.S.), a very impressive move in a year when global fee declined 6 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters estimates.

The soft-spoken Mr. Butt started his career as one of the first handful of employees charged with starting TD Securities from the ground up. In 1993, he moved to what was then Burns Fry, one of the independent dealers on Bay Street. The next year, Burns was merged into Bank of Montreal. He was a managing director in mergers and acquisitions, then ran BMO's investment and corporate banking office in Vancouver. In 2001, he was promoted to run investment and corporate banking in Canada and abroad for BMO. In 2008, he was made global head.

Of late, one of his big projects has been building BMO's U.S. investment and corporate banking business. As U.S. banks shed top staff during the financial crisis, BMO hired aggressively.

"Among Bill's many accomplishments are his oversight of the repositioning and growth of our I&CB U.S. business and the expansion of our I&CB footprint into Australia, India and China," Tom Milroy, head of BMO's capital markets unit, said in an e-mail to staff announcing the departure.

"As long as I've known Bill, he has championed a long-term, strategic approach to clients as opposed to a near-term, transaction-based orientation," Mr. Milroy added.

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