Morgan Keegan Beats $9.2 Million Fine, But Private Equity Buyers Are Circling Anyway

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 08:06
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Morgan Keegan Beats $9.2 Million Fine, But Private Equity Buyers Are Circling Anyway

Lawyers are celebrating a Houston judge's decision to throw out a previous $9.2 million judgment against Morgan Keegan, but the firm at the center of the case is still marked for sale.

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FINRA and the expert witness got the math wrong in arguing that Morgan Keegan deliberately altered the NAV reports on several bad mortgage-backed instruments, the appellate court determined.

 

As such, the $210 million mountain of fines the firm is facing is now $9.2 million lighter -- and lawyers are eager to challenge the other penalties on similar grounds.

 

Meanwhile, it looks like the front runners to buy the embattled firm are all in the private equity business. Insiders have pointed to Blackstone and rival Thomas H. Lee as key bidders.

 

This is a key development for Morgan Keegan brokers, who were wary of being sold to another bank that might meddle with their operations more than current owner Nations.

 

As such, their managers reportedly asked Nations to keep Wells Fargo and other banks from the bargaining table.

 

A private equity owner will almost certainly be content to leave the the brokers alone generate cash. 

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