Senior rainmaker’s exit causes stir at Bank of America

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Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Fares Noujaim, an executive vice chairman at Bank of America and investment banker who represented corporations like Pfizer, GM, and Verizon, has left abruptly, sparking questions about his relationship with the bank, according to people familiar with the matter.

Noujaim, 52, resigned in a telephone call to Bank of America investment-banking head Christian Meissner on Sept. 8, said one of these people, but didn't disclose his plans more widely until this week, when his assistant began packing his belongings on the bank's executive floor in New York.

The sudden timing and lack of information surrounding Noujaim's plans, and the concern that he may take key clients with him to a new firm, has created anxiety in Bank of America's top circles this week, said other people familiar with the matter.

Reached by telephone Thursday afternoon, Noujaim stressed that his departure from Bank of America was amicable, and that he looked forward to a new role he planned to take at the investment-banking boutique Guggenheim Partners.

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"I enjoyed my time at Bank of America, I'm looking forward to a new chapter and that new chapter is going to include serving my clients first and upmost, and the second is continuing the partnership between Guggenheim and Bank of America," said Noujaim. He declined to elaborate on the reasons for his transition.

A Bank of America spokesman declined to comment on the matter.

Before joining Merrill Lynch, then an independent company, in June 2008, Noujaim, a longtime dealmaker who has covered both major American companies as well as the Middle East and Africa, was a career banker at Bear Stearns, where he worked closely with Alan Schwartz.

Himself a veteran banker, Schwartz was elevated to become Bear's chief executive officer in January 2008, just months before the bank collapsed, the first corporate victim of the financial crisis on Wall Street.

Schwartz went on to become executive chairman of Guggenheim, a small but growing asset manager that has enlarged its banking and capital markets efforts dramatically in recent years.

—By CNBC's Kate Kelly