Branch managers leave Morgan Stanley in Calif and New York

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Four Morgan Stanley Smith Barney branch managers left in the past few days, part of an exodus that began when Morgan Stanley <MS.N> gained control of Citigroup's Smith Barney brokerage arm in 2009 and began consolidating branches.

In California, John Simmons, a district manager in San Diego since joining Morgan Stanley in 2008, also has departed. He previously worked at the former First Union Securities and at Merrill Lynch, where he ran a Washington, D.C., branch.

Morgan Stanley confirmed the departures, but declined further comment. The advisers couldn't be reached for comment, and have not registered at other firms, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's website.

As previously reported, Stamford, Connecticut-based complex manager James "Shamus" O'Rourke left Morgan Stanley Smith Barney last week to rejoin Merrill Lynch in New Haven, Connecticut. He was at Morgan Stanley for nearly five years.

Reuters reported last week that Dean Cottle, who managed a branch complex for Morgan Stanley in Utah, joined Robert W. Baird & Co's wealth management unit. Cottle, a 34-year veteran who also has worked at Merrill Lynch, Shearson Lehman Brothers and E.F. Hutton & Co., is opening a Salt Lake City office for Baird.

(Reporting by Joseph A. Giannone, editing by Jed Horowitz)