Regions 10-K Filing Shows SEC Interest

By Andy Meek

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into recent events at Morgan Keegan & Co., the Memphis-based subsidiary of Regions Financial Corp. that currently is the subject of several lawsuits filed on behalf of angry investors.

Four suits are pending at the moment in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee against Morgan Keegan and another recently was filed in Shelby County Chancery Court.

The suits were filed on behalf of investors all making similar claims against the Memphis brokerage firm, including that they were allegedly misled about the true
nature of the risk in buying into a handful of Regions Morgan Keegan mutual funds that lost most of their value over the course of 2007.

The suits in West Tennessee collectively represent several dozen investors from across the U.S. That litigation is still in the early stage, with lawyers working through such issues as the possibility of giving
class-action status to one or more of the suits.

The events that prompted those lawsuits, meanwhile, are why Regions has received information requests from the SEC, and it's not yet clear if the requests constitute an informal inquiry or if they have the makings of an official investigation.

Regions disclosed the news in the annual report it filed with the SEC this week. Company officials would not comment when asked what information the SEC has requested.

"We have strong and open relationships with our regulators, and we're providing information as requested," said Tim Deighton, manager of corporate communications for Regions.
"We will disclose additional information as appropriate, but at this point we really don't have anything to add to the 10-K disclosure."