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Raymond James Said to Vie With Stifel to Buy Morgan Keegan

Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Raymond James Financial Inc. resumed talks to buy Regions Financial Corp.’s Morgan Keegan brokerage unit, setting up a bidding contest with Stifel Financial Corp., said three people with knowledge of the matter.

Regions may get $1 billion or more for Memphis, Tennessee-based Morgan Keegan and is unlikely to reach a deal with either bidder before next year, said two of the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity as the matter is private.

The purchase would be Raymond James’s biggest, uniting two of the U.S. Southeast’s largest brokerages. With more than twice the stock-market value and financial advisory staff of Stifel, Raymond James would have an easier time financing the acquisition.

Morgan Keegan has 1,200 financial advisers to Raymond James’s 5,100, while Stifel has about 2,000. A period of exclusive negotiations with Stifel, based in St. Louis, has expired, allowing Raymond James to revive discussions, two of the people said. Stifel remains in acquisition talks, the people said.

Jana Strange, a spokeswoman for St. Petersburg, Florida-based Raymond James, declined to comment, as did Evelyn Mitchell, a spokeswoman for Birmingham, Alabama-based Regions. A spokeswoman for Stifel didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

Deal History

Founded in 1962, Raymond James hasn’t made an acquisition with a disclosed value greater than the C$125 million ($122 million) the firm agreed to pay in 2000 for a Canadian brokerage, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Raymond James showed interest in Morgan Keegan not long after Regions said in June that it was seeking buyers for the unit, one of the people with knowledge of the matter said. Those talks didn’t proceed beyond a preliminary stage, the person said.

Regions is pushing for a sale of Morgan Keegan to boost capital and eventually repay a $3.5 billion U.S. bailout, the largest sum still outstanding for any institution under the Treasury’s bank-rescue program.

Raymond James climbed 1 cent to $30.43 at 4:15 p.m. New York time. Regions rose 12 cents to $4.22 and Stifel dropped 25 cents to $30.90.

To contact the reporter on this story: Zachary R. Mider in New York at zmider1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jennifer Sondag at jsondag@bloomberg.net

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