BB&T Corp. said Monday that it had agreed to acquire regional securities firm Scott & Stringfellow Financial Inc. of Richmond, Va., for $131 million in stock.

Analysts said the deal would benefit the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based banking company by providing a retail network for Craigie Inc., the bond underwriter BB&T bought last year for $32 million. BB&T has 527 branches in the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.

Scott & Stringfellow would also bring BB&T a good investment banking foothold in the Southeast.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

BB&T chairman John A. Allison said he expects "significant synergies" in such businesses as middle-market commercial lending, investment counseling, insurance, and trust.

"Our clients are asking for more sophisticated financial products, including corporate finance, equity underwriting and distribution, advisory services, and research," Mr. Allison said.

Scott & Stringfellow would complete "our investment banking product line," he added.

BB&T has assets of $32.2 billion. Scott & Stringfellow has $10.2 billion under management and 31 offices in North and South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

John Sherman Jr., president and chief executive officer of Scott & Stringfellow, described combining his investment banking with BB&T's commercial business as an "excellent opportunity."

Nancy A. Bush, an analyst with Ryan Beck & Co., said the deal reaffirms BB&T's seriousness about expanding its businesses and controlling its destiny as an acquirer.

But Ms. Bush said she has "mixed feelings" about the frequency of its deals. BB&T bought Craigie, also Richmond-based, in October 1997. It specializes in underwriting public and private fixed-income securities- products Scott & Stringfellow can immediately integrate.

Though Ms. Bush liked BB&T's choice of Scott & Stringfellow, she fears the banking company is doing too many acquisitions too fast. The pace makes her wonder if merging with or buying financial companies has become a "core business for them."

Scott & Stringfellow shareholders are to exchange each of their shares for one of BB&T.

Craigie would become part of Scott & Stringfellow, which would retain its name and operate at arm's length from BB&T.

Richmond would become investment banking headquarters, with Mr. Sherman retaining his titles, the companies said. S. Buford Scott and Frederic S. Bocock would remain as chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of Scott & Stringfellow.

Allen Mead Ferguson and John Thomas West 4th of Craigie would join the Scott & Stringfellow board.

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