ALAMEDA, Calif. — Sterne, Agee & Leach Inc. has acquired San Francisco-based Nollenberger Capital Partners Inc.

Nollenberger announced the transaction on its website. No further details were available from the firms Wednesday, but Birmingham, Ala.-based Sterne Agee appears to be using the acquisition to expand its overall footprint in California, as well as establishing a first-time presence in California public finance.

Sterne Agee is credited as senior manager for $653 million of municipal debt in 2010, and as co-manager for $2.1 billion, according to Thomson Reuters — up about 40% compared to 2009.

The 105-year-old financial services firm also has substantial equities and corporate investment banking operations, with more than 1,100 employees in 23 states.

Nollenberger, which also has offices in Newport Beach and San Jose, was credited as senior manager for $28.7 million of municipal bonds during 2010, and as a co-manager for $304 million.

Nollenberger is a member of the underwriting pool for California state bond issues. Earlier this year, the firm announced that it had expanded its public finance department in an effort to increase its municipal underwriting business to increase its clients' access to primary-market municipal debt.

Sterne Agee will move its small, equity-focused San Francisco office into Nollenberger's quarters, and Nollenberger's chief executive, Doug Heske, will continue with Sterne Agee in San Francisco, the San Francisco Business Times reported.

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