Energy banker Robert Africk last month broadened his industry scope with a new role as senior managing director and head of investment banking at Blaylock & Partners.
Africk has focused on the energy sector in various positions over the majority of his 22-year career. Most recently he was a managing director and head of the oil and gas group at Fieldstone Inc., a New York investment bank. Prior to his work at Fieldstone, Africk was involved in energy-focused investment banking at Prudential Securities Inc. for more than 10 years.
Africk, who was located for Blaylock by executive search firm Heidrich & Struggles, will be relieving Ronald Blaylock, chief executive officer and chairman of the investment firm, who temporarily filled the role of senior managing director since June. Africk was attracted to the position, because he saw it as “a much stronger opportunity” than what he had at Fieldstone. He said, Blaylock “has a very exciting platform and honestly I missed having the public capital markets capability, which Blaylock has and Fieldstone did not.”
Apparently Africk was not the only one looking for better alternatives outside of Fieldstone. David Belzer, a former vice president at the oil and gas group at Fieldstone, has also moved over to Blaylock in recent months. He now serves as a vice president of Blaylock’s investment banking team. Eric Dosal also recently joined from Fieldstone and will be serving as an associate at Blaylock.
Africk declined comment as to whether Fieldstone is undergoing any changes that instigated the three professionals’ transitions.
Africk’s primary function at Blaylock will be growing the investment bank. “To date it’s been a Fortune 500-type strategy, working with the very large companies primarily on the public offerings of equity and debt,” Africk said. “They’ve asked me to broaden that out to include M&A and private placements and perhaps some restructuring work.”
He said one change that will likely occur is including some more middle market activities in order to add a more predictable flow of business.
The firm is also re-evaluating the industries it has traditionally focused on, which to date include energy, utilities, telecommunications, technology, consumer-related and transportation. “There’s sort of a question in my mind as to whether those are the right [industries for Blaylock] or perhaps there are one or two others that we should add, like financial services or health care,” Africk said.
The firm expects to see a growing staff on both the investment banking and research sides as the business grows. And with the consolidation in the markets and the increasing expansion in the larger firms, Africk expects to see many solid candidates.
To be sure, the firm has recruited a number of new players in recent months. In addition to the three recruits from Fieldstone, Margaret “Peggy” Jones, a former energy and utilities analyst at Prudential Securities, joined Blaylock’s equity research department in January. Early last year, Blaylock welcomed another energy expert naming Former U.S. Energy Secretary Hazel O’Leary president and chief operating officer. She also provides consulting for the investment bank’s energy and utilities activities.