SEC Hits Morgan Keegan With Wells Notice

Morgan Keegan & Co., a unit of Regions Financial, Morgan Asset Management and three employees each received a “Wells” notice from the SEC, the company stated in a Form 8-K filed by Regions on July 9.

Morgan Keegan & Co., a unit of Regions Financial, Morgan Asset Management and three employees each received a “Wells” notice from the SEC, the company stated in a Form 8-K filed by Regions on July 9.

A Wells notice states that the SEC intends to bring enforcement actions for possible violations of federal securities laws. The 8-K said the potential actions relate to the SEC’investigation of certain mutual funds formerly managed by Morgan Asset Management. “A Wells notice is not a formal allegation nor a finding of wrongdoing,” the company stated in its filing. “The notice provides the recipients the opportunity to provide their perspective and to address issues raised prior to any formal action being taken by the Commission.”

The Wells notice might be linked to its former mutual fund business; it sold a group of bond funds to Hyperion-Brookfield Asset Management. In January, Regions sold its remaining asset management business (11 “RMK” bond funds with about $2 billion in AUM) to Pioneer Investment Management. The firm is being sued for losses in those bond funds.

Morgan Keegan was founded in 1969 in Memphis, and “is today a premier regional investment firm offering full-service investment banking, securities brokerage, wealth and asset management,” according to its website. Morgan Keegan serves the diverse financial needs of individual investors, corporate and institutional clients throughout the U.S. and abroad. Morgan Keegan has over 300 offices in 19 states and more than 4,400 employees.

Regions Financial was formed in 2004 out of the merger with Union Planters, creating the 15th largest bank holding company in the nation. Regions acquired Morgan Keegan in 2001. According to its website, Regions (with $146 billion in assets) is “one of the nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, trust, securities brokerage, mortgage and insurance products and services.” Regions serves customers in 16 states across the South, Midwest and Texas, and, through its subsidiary, Regions Bank, operates over 1,900 banking offices and more than 2,300 ATMs.

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