NU Online News Service, April 5, 2005, 5:50 p.m. EDT

A giant Charlotte, N.C., bank holding company has agreed to scoop up Palmer & Cay Inc., Savannah, Ga., a large insurance brokerage and benefits consulting firm.[@@]

Executives at the bank holding company, Wachovia Corp., say the company is acquiring the brokerage firm, Palmer & Cay Inc., to strengthen its benefits and property-casualty brokerage operations on the East Coast, in the Midwest and in the Southwest.

Wachovia has $493 billion in assets and retail offices up and down much of the East Coast. Its own Wachovia Insurance Services unit has about 850 employees.

Palmer & Cay has 950 employees and 34 offices in the District of Columbia and 22 states.

Wachovia has not disclosed the deal price, but it says it hopes to complete the deal by June 30.

Wachovia says completing the deal would make it 1 of the top 10 insurance brokerage firms in the nation.

“While many of our competitors are shedding business lines and are focused on their internal issues, we are investing and growing our business,” Stewart McDowell, president of Wachovia Insurance, says in a statement about the Palmer & Cay deal.

John Cay III, chairman of Palmer & Cay, will be chairman of Wachovia Insurance, and McDowell will continue to be president, Wachovia says.