Morgan Keegan Advisers Leave Firm

By Andy Meek

In recent days, teams of Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc. advisers either are talking about leaving or have already begun departing the Memphis-based investment firm, for which sale talks continue to drag on.

Recruiter Ron Edde of Armstrong Financial Group Inc. confirmed that two Morgan Keegan advisers – Richard Smith and Steven Thornton, who had a more-than-$1 million book of business at the Memphis firm – have left to start their own company.

And more departures have followed.

Two additional Morgan Keegan advisers, Peter Korcusko and Frank Colucci, left the firm within the last several days and moved to Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. And more could be on the way out.

Edde told The Daily News his firm is currently engaged with multiple Morgan Keegan advisers.

Those departures – and any more Morgan Keegan advisers who might be on the fence – represent the outcome Morgan Keegan and its parent, Regions Financial Corp., likely have been trying to avoid: an uptick in employee departures before a sale of Regions' investment banking franchise could be completed.

Morgan Keegan was put up for sale this summer, and though talks are still ongoing, a buyer has not been announced. Meanwhile, it’s generally understood that an exodus of talent could erode the value of the franchise.

Earlier this month, Regions CEO Grayson Hall addressed the still-unresolved sale of Morgan Keegan during the 2011 Barclays Capital Global Financial Services Conference in New York.

“In regards to Morgan Keegan ... we really have nothing new to report today except to reiterate we continue to explore strategic alternatives,” Hall said. “The Morgan Keegan franchise continues to perform very well, and we remain confident in our efforts to resolve our strategic direction with this business promptly.”