Report: Stifel in Talks to Buy Sterne Agee

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Stifel Financial Corp is in talks to buy Sterne Agee Group Inc, a move that would combine two of the largest U.S. brokerages outside of New York, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

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A deal may be announced within days, Bloomberg reported. (http://bloom.bg/1LiPTLv)

Stifel declined to comment. Sterne Agee was not immediately available for comment.

St. Louis-based Stifel has acquired more than 10 banking and brokerage businesses since 2005.

Founded in 1901, Birmingham, Alabama-based Sterne Agee maintains custody of about $26 billion in client assets, according to its website.

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

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In 2010, Stifel bought San Francisco-based investment banking boutique Thomas Weisel Partners Group.

Stifel's shares were down about 2 percent at $50.04 in early trading. Up to Thursday's close, the stock had risen about 7 percent in the last 12 months. (Reporting by Amrutha Gayathri in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Jennings and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)