Bicoastal Money Management Merger

Morris Offit, Kathryn Hall join forces to serve th

A little more than two years after selling his $11 billion trust banking firm to Wachovia Corp. for $200 million in stock, Morris Offit is joining forces with a major West Coast investment advisor to wealthy individuals and families.

Offit, whose New York-based Offitbank manages money for individuals, families, and nonprofit groups, is joining Kathryn A. Hall, who founded Laurel Management Co. in San Francisco in 1994 and currently advises clients with more than $9 billion in assets. In March, Hall and Offit will change the name of their firm to Offit Hall Capital Management.

Laurel Management is a registered investment advisor with about 60 clients. It oversees their investments in domestic and international equities, real estate, hedge funds, and debt--Offit's specialty. The new firm, says Offit, will serve as a "chief investment officer" for its clients.

After selling out to Wachovia, Offit was named a director and stayed on as CEO of his trust bank. But last year he was forced out of both posts when he became the lone dissenter in the Wachovia board's 14-1 vote to turn down an unsolicited merger offer from SunTrust Banks Inc. The board reaffirmed its support for an existing plan to merge with First Union Corp., creating the nation's fourth-largest bank.

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