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By Reuters
February 23, 2015

(Reuters) – Investment bank Stifel Financial said it will buy privately held Sterne Agee Group for $150 million to expand its wealth management and fixed-income business.

The acquisition will add 730 financial advisers, boosting Stifel’s headcount of wealth management professionals by 35% to more than 2,800.

Founded in 1901, Birmingham, Alabama-based Sterne Agee’s wealth business managed over $20 billion in client assets. The acquired businesses are expected to generate about $300 to $325 million in gross annual revenue.

The deal is expected to close in the late spring.

Stifel said it is also considering spinning off Sterne Agee’s institutional equity and investment banking unit into a standalone business.

St. Louis-based Stifel, which went public in 1986, has acquired more than 10 banking and brokerage businesses since 2005.

Stifel’s last major acquisition was in 2012, when it bought smaller rival KBW Inc for $575 million in cash and stock to create a middle-market investment bank.

In 2010, Stifel bought San Francisco-based investment banking boutique Thomas Weisel Partners Group for $300 million in stock.

Keefe Bruyette & Woods Inc was the lead financial adviser for Stifel and Bryan Cave was the legal adviser. Sandler O’Neill Partners L.P was the financial adviser for Sterne Agee and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz was its legal adviser.

Stifel reported a lower-than-expected fourth-quarter profit on Monday, hurt by higher non-interest expenses.

Stifel shares (SF) closed at $52.09 on Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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