BB&T Corp., building on a recent bank deal in South Carolina, said Tuesday that it would buy Edgar M. Norris & Co., a brokerage boutique in Greenville, S.C.
Winston-Salem, N.C.-based BB&T has announced plans to acquire four banking companies in four Southeast states this year. BB&T has also bought several insurance agencies as part of its expansion plan.
Until Tuesdays deal, the companys only retail-focused brokerage deal was its March 1999 purchase of Scott & Stringfellow Inc., most of whose 43 offices are in Virginia and North Carolina. Edgar M. Norris would be folded into that unit.
The brokerage and investment banking unit wants to grow within BB&Ts expanding bank footprint, namely in West Virginia, Georgia, and South Carolina, said John Sherman, president and chief executive officer of Scott & Stringfellow, which still operates under that name.
In South Carolina, Scott & Stringfellow has offices in Charleston and Rock Hill. By absorbing Edgar M. Norris, it would get four desirable South Carolina offices in Greenville, Anderson, Greenwood, and Columbia, Mr. Sherman said.
When youre the new kid on the block, its very difficult to establish your credibility, Mr. Sherman said. Through an acquisition its easier to tell your story and to persuade other [brokerages] to join.
The 51-year-old Edgar M. Norris company has about 50 employees, including 31 brokers, who would join Scott & Stringfellows 850, Mr. Sherman said. The smaller firm would add about $1.5 billion of assets under management to Scott & Stringfellows $15 billion, he said.
The acquisition is a strategic one, said Mark Fitzgibbon, a banking analyst at Sandler ONeill & Partners. BB&T did not disclose the purchase price.
It nicely complements their Scott & Stringfellow operation [and] sends a signal to the world that the company is still very focused on growing its fee-based businesses within its core footprint, Mr. Fitzgibbon said. BB&Ts fee income was $799 million in 1999, up 30% from 1998, according to the company.
Edgar M. Norris, which has allied itself with Scott & Stringfellow in some public offerings, was attracted to BB&Ts financial prowess, Mr. Sherman said. The combined entity would look to expand into areas such as Asheville, N.C.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; and Atlanta, he said.