In downtown Roanoke, Va., a few weeks ago, a group of about 40 men and women checked into the Patrick Henry Hotel. Clad casually, many in shorts and T-shirts, the guests registered as members of the "Blue Ridge Motor Club" and said they were attending a travel convention.

But their real mission was to buy Dominion Bankshares Corp., the city's biggest banking company.

Limited Time Offer

Save $400 off your subscription. Special offer ends April 30, 2017.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.