Investment bank shuts local office

Tuesday, August 12, 2008 at 12:13am

BB&T Capital Markets has closed its West End office, leaving two senior analysts in limbo.

This past Friday was the last day at the office for the seven-person team in the 2525 Building. A.C. McGraw, BB&T’s media relations manager, said the move was the result of a cost-benefits analysis. Nashville — one of four locales focused on equity research — is the only one of BB&T Capital Markets’ 20 offices to close.

BB&T set up shop locally in January 2000, snagging from J.C. Bradford veteran analysts Barry Stouffer, who mainly covers restaurants, and John Diffendal, whose work spans the manufactured housing, recreational vehicles and specialty construction sectors. Two other analysts, Juan Gomez and Zachary Wollam, were working with them until last weekend.

McGraw said Stouffer and Diffendal, along with the other affected employees, are still employed by BB&T and have 60 days to decide if they will take posts elsewhere in the organization.

Other BB&T units followed the capital markets division into Middle Tennessee, led by its insurance agency division, which acquired Thornton & Harwell in 2000 and Cooper, Love & Jackson three years later.

The bank, which has more than $130 billion in assets, also has dipped its toes into the region’s retail banking market with branches in Belle Meade and Green Hills. Its move to close the capital markets office comes less than a month after a New York firm specializing in healthcare work quietly opened an office in Burton Hills.

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