Mercantile taps `major talent'

Pileggi will head Capitol Advisors, securities units

February 20, 2002|By William Patalon III | William Patalon III,SUN STAFF

Mercantile Bankshares Corp., continuing with plans to add muscle to its asset-management businesses, announced yesterday that a veteran of the mutual fund industry will head two important subsidiaries.

The bank named John J. Pileggi, 43, as president and chief executive officer of its Mercantile Capital Advisors Inc. and Hopkins Plaza Securities Inc., units. The appointment is effective immediately.

"This is another piece of evidence that Mercantile is positioning itself to be a major player in the trust and asset management businesses," said Gerard S. Cassidy, a banking analyst with RBC Capital Markets, Portland, Maine. "To be a major player, you need major talent."

Mercantile Capital Advisors is the investment adviser and administrator to the proprietary family of 14 M.S.D&T mutual funds. Hopkins Plaza Securities is the broker/dealer whose registered representatives market the funds to investors throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

Pileggi is the second executive Mercantile has added to its investment-management business this month. On Feb. 5, Wallace Mathai-Davis, 57, was named chairman of the bank's investment and wealth-management operations. Mathai-Davis then hired Pileggi.

Before joining Mercantile, Mathai-Davis was second in command at Offitbank, a bank that caters to wealthy clients. Pileggi had most recently served as president and CEO of PlusFunds Ltd., a Web firm that works with the so-called "hedge" funds that cater to wealthy clientele. Before that, he was president and CEO of ING Group, a mutual fund company.

Pileggi "is a recognized leader in the mutual fund and investment management business," said Mercantile Bankshares CEO Edward J. Kelly III. "We are particularly pleased that a professional of his distinction has joined the Mercantile organization."

Said Mathai-Davis of his new protege: "John is a tough-minded guy from New York - he's a Wall Street guy."

Key will be using his expertise to make sure Mercantile has the right investment products to offer its clients, whether that means developing new offerings in house, or embracing products offered by other companies.

The "client first" philosophy is only one of the reasons this job is attractive, Pileggi said. Additionally, the Mercantile name has cachet. Pileggi said he respects Mathai-Davis, having worked with him. He said he's looking forward to life in the Baltimore region, noting that he and his wife, Leslie, are looking at area farms.

"We have the culture, the tradition of Mercantile, and the ability to compete, and make an impact," Pileggi said. "That's why a crazy guy from New York wants to be here" at Mercantile, he said.

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