As soon as Stifel Financial CEO Ron Kruszewski finished his presentation Wednesday morning at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods’ 2011 Securities Brokerage and Market Structure Conference and opened the floor to questions, the first one out of the gate concerned Morgan Keegan, the Memphis-based investment bank Stifel is rumored to be thinking about buying.
I should say, was rumored to be thinking about buying. The latest word from inside sources is that a potential Stifel purchase of Morgan Keegan is now all but dead.
Needless to say, Stifel’s CEO dispatched the question quickly.
“I just have to say I’m not in a position to talk about market speculation, other than to say as always we evaluate any opportunities that could be there,” Kruszewski said. “But I’m really not in a position to talk about that.”
And that was that.
If a Stifel deal is indeed not happening, that would be the second time the St. Louis-based company sat down at the negotiating table – and walked away.
It’s a complete reversal of what sources with knowledge of the talks were saying as recently as before the Thanksgiving holiday – namely, that a Stifel deal appeared to be a sure thing. Heck, that a new name for the combined firm was even being discussed.
It’s unclear where the bid process for Morgan Keegan goes from here. Before Stifel, teams of private equity bidders appeared to be in prime position, then dropped their bids by a few hundred million once MF Global collapsed. That’s when Stifel, possibly sensing an opening, returned to the negotiating table.