Brokerage Deals: Just Looking, Thanks

Inflated prices may slow the rush to buy brokerage firms

Another day, another brokerage-firm rumor. Lately, Baltimore has been abuzz with whispers of imminent takeovers. It is home to Alex. Brown & Sons Inc., which just agreed to be sold to Bankers Trust Co. In the shops and restaurants at Harborplace near the small financial district of this old Chesapeake Bay city, takeover talk has centered on Legg Mason Inc., a well-regarded regional brokerage firm. "We've been sold about 12 times in the last week," jokes Raymond A. "Chip" Mason, Legg Mason's chief executive.

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