Raymond James Makes Bid on Regions Unit: Report

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Raymond James Financial ( RJF) has resumed talks to buy Regions Financials' ( RF) Morgan Keegan brokerage unit, after an exclusivity period with Stifel Financial ( SF) has expired, according to Bloomberg reports citing unnamed sources.

News that bid's for Morgan Keegan aren't exclusive signal that a sale of the Memphis, Tenn.-based brokerage may become increasingly competitive. In August, Reuters reported that private equity firm's the Blackstone Group ( BX), Apollo Global Management ( APO), the Carlyle Group and TPG Capital were also interested bidders.

Regions Financial is looking to shed Morgan Keegan in an effort to repay bailout funds taken by the bank during the financial crisis.

In November, Bloomberg reported that Regions Financial was in exclusive talks to sell the Morgan Keegan brokerage to Stifel Financial. With Morgan Keegan, Stifel would have one of the largest brokerages in the U.S. with nearly 3,000 brokers and would be the largest takeover for Stifel, which has been acquisitive in recent years.

Regions Financial put Morgan Keegan up for sale in June as it tries to raise capital to repay the U.S. Treasury's preferred-share investment in the Alabama -based company. Currently, Regions is one of the largest remaining TARP recipients and is still struggling with its capitalization

Regions Financial shares are off nearly 40% year-to-date. Nine months into 2011, the company is on track to earn its first annual profit since the onset of the financial crisis. In 2008, Regions lost a record $5.6 billion.

-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York

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