Regions Revamp

Regions Financial Corp. in Birmingham, Ala., announced Thursday that it is combining its trust, private banking and insurance units into a wealth management division headed by former regional president Bill Ritter.

The $132 billion-asset company also said it has hired former Whitney National Bank President John M. Turner to replace Ritter as president of its central region. Both will report to Regions President and Chief Executive Grayson Hall and will serve on the bank's operating committee.

The announcement came a day after Regions said it will put its Morgan Keegan & Co. brokerage up for sale, and pay $210 million to settle charges by regulators that it misled investors about subprime-mortgage-related risks in certain mutual and other funds.

The company said Morgan Asset Management and Regions Morgan Keegan Trust will not be put on the block.

Hall said in a release that integrating the separate business lines into a new wealth management group should improve cross-selling efforts and help advance the bank's goal of increasing noninterest income. He said that Ritter's breadth of experience within the bank "make him an ideal fit" for the role. "At the same time," Hall added, "the opportunity to add someone of John Turner's stature and experience to lead our central region will add even more strength to our management team."

Turner had been with Whitney since 1994 and was named president of the bank and its parent, Whitney Holding Corp., in 2008. The $11.5 billion-asset Whitney was sold to rival Hancock Holding Co. earlier this month.

Too Healthy to Fail

U.S. Bancorp's community development corporation is loading up on tax credits for providing healthy food options to poor neighborhoods.

Made under the federal government's New Markets Tax Credit program, the investments range from creating a market for Alaskan fishermen to sell their catch to opening a green grocer in Philadelphia. U.S. Bancorp boasts that it's the country's most active bank in the New Markets program, and even has a staff dedicated to pursuing such opportunities.

Matt Philpott, director of new markets, historic and renewable energy tax credit investments for the community development arm, said the company is "proud to have a strong record of investing in projects that promote healthy outcomes."

Hello, Bayh

Fifth Third Bancorp is continuing to pick up brand-name board members.

A few months after it recruited former Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Bill Isaac to serve as the bank's own chairman, the company announced it has added Evan Bayh to its board.

A former Democratic governor and senator from Indiana, Bayh served on the Senate Banking Committee during his two terms in Washington. In announcing Bayh's addition to the board, Isaac praised the former politician's knowledge of banking and his financial credentials.

"As governor of Indiana, he established that state as one of the strongest, most financially secure economies in the nation," Isaac said.

Luring Lurie

Herbert Lurie, who led many of the mega bank mergers of the 1990s as head of the financial institutions advisory practice at Merrill Lynch & Co., recently joined Guggenheim Partners as that firm works to raise its profile on Wall Street.

Privately held Guggenheim, run by Chief Executive Mark Walter, has been expanding as much larger Wall Street rivals shrink in response to new regulations.

Separate from its banking and capital markets group, Guggenheim is setting up a proprietary trading business and has committed $500 million of capital, with a goal of increasing that to $2 billion over time. Guggenheim Global Trading recently hired seven senior executives and is prepared to open for business in the fall.

Lurie, a lawyer by background, helped found the financial institutions group at Merrill and was among its most sought-after rainmakers. In a single week in 1998, he advised on deals worth more than $115 billion, including Bank One Corp.'s merger with First Chicago Corp., and NationsBank Corp.'s merger with BankAmerica Corp. to form Bank of America, the company that now also owns Merrill Lynch.

Merrill's financial institutions group was the top advisor to major U.S. banks during a huge wave of consolidation in the 1990s and as such had the highest profile within the investment bank.

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