Florida investment firm acquired by Canadian bank
By Samantha Joseph
Florida investment firm William R. Hough & Co. has been acquired by a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada in a $150 million transaction.
RBC Dain Rauscher, the eighth-largest full-service securities firm in the US, announced Dec. 16 that it had signed an agreement to take over William R. Hough & Co, the largest underwriter of government-guaranteed student loans in the country.
The merger, which takes effect March 1, will lead to about 39 job cuts.
Hough, which specializes in fixed-income sales, trading and underwriting, is based in St. Petersburg. It has offices in Miami, Boca Raton, Jacksonville, Naples, Orlando and Palm Beach as well as Texas, Maryland, Louisiana, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Virginia and New Jersey.
RBC has140 branch offices but none in Florida. The Hough deal complements Royal Bank's expansion in the Southeast.
"They've been growing like a house afire," said Hough representative Karl Bishopric.
Another Royal Bank subsidiary, Centura Banks Inc., purchased Admiralty Bancorp, a retail bank in Palm Beach, in January 2003. Beja Rodeck, senior manager of media relations at Royal Bank, said Florida's affluent investors and multinational corporations made the state an attractive market for the bank and Hough's investment services support the bank's growth plans.
"There's a real fit with the Centura footprint in the Southeastern United States," she said.
Mr. Bishopric said the acquisition will allow Hough's financial consultants to offer broader services to clients.
"This is an indication of the prominence of Miami as a base for money-management firms," he said. "There's a lot of concentrated wealth here, particularly in South Florida. Florida is one of the wealthiest states in terms of people who invest in securities."