RBC High-Yield Credit Head Steve Oplinger Said to Leave Firm

Royal Bank of Canada lost the head of its U.S. high-yield sales and trading unit today after the lender rose to become one of the top 10 underwriters of the debt.

Steve Oplinger, who joined RBC in 2013 to run sales and trading of U.S. high-yield bonds and leveraged loans, is leaving the firm, according to two people with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be named because the move is private.

Oplinger’s departure comes at a key time for RBC’s expansion into leveraged finance, a corner of the debt markets that’s remained lucrative as other fixed-income businesses have become less profitable for capital-constrained banks. The Toronto-based lender has climbed U.S. high-yield bond underwriter rankings since the crisis to become the 10th most-active manager in each of the last two years, up from 14th in 2011 and 17th in 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Sal Morale and Ryan Atkinson will now co-head speculative-grade credit trading, and Sean Peters will lead high-yield sales, said one of the people.

Kait Conetta, a spokeswoman for RBC, and Oplinger declined to comment.

Underwriter Rankings

Oplinger joined the former Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corp. in the 1980s before rising to co-head U.S. high-yield sales at Credit Suisse Group AG, which bought DLJ in 2000. He left Credit Suisse and joined RBC in 2013.

RBC, which hired at least 18 people for its credit-trading and sales unit since the end of 2011, climbed ahead of firms including UBS Group AG and Jefferies LLC in junk-bond underwriter rankings during the past few years. RBC has also risen to become the ninth-biggest manager of loans sold to institutional investors, up from 12th in 2010, Bloomberg data show.

Speculative-grade bonds -- those rated below Baa3 by Moody’s Investors Service and lower than BBB- by Standard & Poor’s -- gained 2.5 percent in 2014, Bank of America Merrill Lynch index data show. It was the debt’s worst annual performance since 2008.

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