1. Business

Raymond James Financial lays off 160, most of them in St. Petersburg

Raymond James Financial is laying off 160 employees, including 115 in its St. Petersburg headquarters.

Most of the cuts confirmed Thursday were in information technology as the financial services and brokerage firm trimmed away overlap from last year's acquisition of Morgan Keegan & Co. In closing the $1.2 billion deal, which was the largest in Raymond James' history, the company previously indicated local job cuts were likely.

The merger catapulted the company's mission to market itself as the premier alternative to Wall Street-based brokerage firms.

At the time of the merger, Raymond James laid off 218 employees, primarily new Morgan Keegan employees at that firm's Memphis hub and elsewhere. But Raymond James has never had a sizable layoff like this in St. Petersburg before, company spokesman Steve Hollister said.

"These were not easy decisions, and we made every effort to be thoughtful and deliberate in our approach to achieving our staffing goals," Hollister said in a statement. "While an adjustment of this size is unprecedented in the firm's history, it is the consequence of an equally unprecedented acquisition."

No more sizeable cuts are expected.

Raymond James, one of the biggest public companies in Tampa Bay, will have 10,400 employees nationwide, including 3,200 in its St. Petersburg home office, following the cuts.

Affected workers began learning about the layoffs Thursday morning.

Raymond James' stock is nearing a 52-week high as it has enjoyed the market's record-setting surge this past week. On Thursday, its shares closed at $46.01 apiece, up 36 cents or about 1 percent.

Jeff Harrington can be reached at (727) 893-8242 or