George Friedlander Returns to Citigroup as Senior Municipal Strategist

George Friedlander, a municipal bond strategist, has rejoined Citigroup Inc., where he worked for the bank and its predecessors for more than three decades.

Friedlander, 62, who was dismissed by Morgan Stanley Smith Barney two months ago, will work in Citigroup’s investment research and analysis group. He will be the New York-based bank’s senior U.S. municipal securities strategist, according to a memo from Richard Pagan, a managing director at Citigroup’s investment research and analysis group and Howard Marsh, the head of its municipal division.

“We are delighted that he has now decided to re-join Citi and build a full-service municipal securities strategy unit,” Pagan and Marsh wrote. “From this position he will be able to serve both U.S. retail and global institutional clients, as the asset class itself attracts a more global investor base.”

Friedlander, who joined the municipal division of Smith Barney in 1975, was among 200 employees fired by Morgan Stanley Smith Barney at the end of May as the retail brokerage joint venture integrated the two formerly separate firms.

International investors have boosted their holdings of U.S. municipal debt since the introduction last year of the Build America Bonds program as part of the U.S. economic stimulus package. The taxable securities have offered international buyers higher yields than some corporate bonds, coupled with lower default risk.

International Investors

International investors increased their holdings of U.S. municipal debt by about 50 percent in 2009, to $60.6 billion, in the first year of sales of Build Americas, according to Federal Reserve data. The buying continued in the first three months of this year as foreign holdings grew 19 percent to $71.9 billion.

Citigroup, the top underwriter of U.S. municipal bonds in the first six months of the year, was the second-biggest manager of Build Americas and other stimulus program debt, according to Thomson Reuters. Citigroup led banks in selling $29.2 billion of U.S. municipal bonds and $7.9 billion of Build America Bonds and other stimulus program debt.

Friedlander, who was named to Institutional Investor’s “All-American Research Team” for 14 years, according to his biography, will report to Matt King, Citigroup’s global head of credit strategy.

Friedlander graduated from the State University of New York at Stony Brook with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. He received a master’s degree in business administration from Pace University in New York.

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