Morgan Stanley Pays FB IPO Fine, Symetra Joins Apollo in Aviva Bidding: Financial Business Update

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), as lead underwriter for Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) initial public offering, will shell out a $5 million penalty to Massachusetts to resolve claims that its bankers improperly influenced its research analysts when the firm went public. William Galvin, the state’s chief securities regulator, charged that Morgan Stanley improperly aided Facebook in its disclosure of  sensitive financial information selectively, keeping what he calls “an unlevel playing field” between Wall Street and Main Street going.

Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF) and its subsidiaries have been upgraded at Moody’s Investors Service from Ba3 to Ba1 for senior debt. The Regions Bank was upgraded to Baa3 from Ba1 for long-term deposits and to Prime-3 from Not-Prime for short-term deposits. The bank’s financial strength rating was affirmed at D+ while its baseline credit assessment was elevated to Baa3 from Ba1. Following the rating action which began on October 3rd, the outlook is stable.

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Knowledgeable sources say that Symetra Financial (NYSE:SYA) has joined Apollo Global Management to bid for Aviva’s United States division and that the parties are in advanced discussions to purchase the unit and could reach a deal within days. Guggenheim Partners, which had previously joined with Apollo to pursue the bid for the Aviva assets, is no longer part of the group.

Two Harbors investment Corp. (AMEX:TWO) on Monday declared a quarterly dividend of 55 cents per share of common stock for the fourth quarter, payable on January 18th to common stockholders of record at the close on December 31st. The dividend is supposed to distribute the remaining REIT taxable income earned during the current year, including taxable income from Two Harbors contribution of its single family residential portfolio to Silver Bay Property Trust Corp. and also from realized gains in the residential mortgage-backed securities portfolio.

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