St. Louis will officially be home to the new Wachovia Securities, after Federal Antitrust regulators approved Wachovia Corp.’s acquisition of A.G. Edwards on Monday. Wachovia says the proxy detailing the ins and outs of the deal for shareholder approval should be ready within the next week.
Richmond, VA-based Wachovia Corp. announced it would acquire A.G. Edwards for roughly $6.8 billion in cash and stock on May 31, to create a firm boasting $1.147 trillion in client assets under management and nearly 15,000 financial advisors. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter, most likely in October, but integration might take until January 2009.
The new brokerage outfit would be headquartered in St. Louis, the home to A.G. Edwards since 1887. It’s not yet clear how many of the 3,000 employees working in the firm’s current headquarters in Richmond Wachovia will take with it to St. Louis. Wachovia spokesman Anthony Mattera says it is far too early to say precisely what the impact will be on either city. Both Wachovia (with its Wheat First Securities and First Union roots) and A.G. Edwards are historical fixtures in their respective cities, dating back to the early 1800’s.
Wachovia chose St. Louis as the combined firm’s home base for a couple of reasons, says Mattera. For one thing, it was a condition of the deal. In addition, St. Louis is a more central location for a national firm with a presence in all 50 states, while the A.G. Edwards St. Louis headquarters is large and modern, and can accommodate the firm’s anticipated long-term growth, he says.
Aite Group senior analyst Adam Honore says the firm may have chosen St. Louis in part because it is a better base from which to serve all of the west coast offices and advisors that Wachovia acquired with its purchase of A.G. Edwards. Whereas Wachovia’s presence is more dominant east of the Mississippi River, A.G. Edwards has a strong presence in the west, particularly California. “They (Wachovia) are not a big name out west,” Honore says, compared with say, Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan and Charles Schwab.In addition, St. Louis has become quite a financial center, with Edward Jones based there, as well as Stifel Nicholas and several other financial services firms.