Baltimore Bank to Buy Discount Brokerage
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Thursday, February 06, 2003

Baltimore Bank to Buy Discount Brokerage

Baltimore-based Mercantile Bankshares Corp. has agreed to buy Peremel & Company in a bid to further expand its line of wealth management services. The deal, which looks to close in roughly four-to-six weeks, will add directed brokerage and discount-brokerage capabilities, including CMA-type accounts, to the multi-bank holding company's investment management stable, according to John Pileggi, president, Mercantile Capital Advisors.

Mercantile will acquire 100 percent of the company, but specific terms of the agreement were not disclosed. As is the case with most of Mercantile's acquisitions, Peremel will operate as a separate business unit, retaining its brand identity, management and team of investment professionals. Pileggi noted that his firm looks for companies that share Mercantile's values, while seeking to add human capital in addition to assets.

Mercantile started to expand its investment offerings and distribution opportunities about a year ago. In March, Mercantile bought a minority stake in Winston Partners, a hedge-fund fund of funds manager. In December, Mercantile closed a strategic investment in Geneos Wealth Management, an independent broker-dealer based in Denver. Earlier this year, it announced an agreement to acquire Boyd Watterson Asset Management, the largest independent investment manager in Cleveland.

"Peremel functionally complements our current strategic investments and fills an important niche in our new business strategies. With its highly regarded brokerage capabilities, robust account service offers and outstanding reputation, partnering with Peremel is a logical step in that transformation," said Wallace Mathai-Davis, chairman of Investment & Wealth Management at Mercantile.

"It (Mercantile) is a strong firm on an upward curve of evolution, and I believe that Peremel can make a major contribution both now and into the future," said Harold Peremel, president, Peremel & Company. "The opportunity to offer self-directed brokerage services as part of Mercantile's investment and wealth management offering gives both parties significant growth opportunities," added Mitchell B. Peremel, vice president of Strategic Business Development.

The holding company's Mercantile-Safe Deposit and Trust Company provides investment and wealth management services. At December 31, 2002, Mercantile had $36 billion in assets under administration, of which $15.6 billion were discretionary assets under management.

Peremel has served investors in Maryland and elsewhere in the country for more than 25 years. It offers the Peremel Bond Network, online investing via Peremel Direct, mutual-fund investing, financial planning and a full array of IRA options.

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