First Commercial Corp. chairman and chief executive Barnett Grace will be able to cash in stock worth about $39 million when Regions Financial Corp. buys his company.

First Commercial of Little Rock, Ark., agreed Feb. 9 to sell itself to Regions Financial of Birmingham, Ala., for $2.7 billion. Shareholders are to vote on the merger July 28, according to proxy materials filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week.

Mr. Grace steadily raised his company stake in the year before the merger announcement. As of February he beneficially owned 472,700 shares, according to company filings, up from about 400,000 shares a year earlier. He also has options on 114,000 First Commercial shares, all exercisable upon completion of the merger.

Mr. Grace has a three-year contract to be president of Regions Financial's Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma operations at a minimum salary of $435,000 per year, plus bonuses of $400,900 in the first year and $340,000 each of the next two years. He will get options on 35,000 Regions Financial shares and restricted stock worth $2.75 million.

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