RALEIGH, N.C. and SAN DIEGO, April 23 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Raleigh, N.C.-based BB&T Insurance Services today said it has reached an agreement with Union Bank of California, N.A., to purchase its San Diego-based insurance subsidiary, UnionBanc Insurance Services Inc.

The acquisition would expand BB&T Corporation's insurance operation in California, where wholesale insurance subsidiary CRC Insurance Services and large account commercial insurer McGriff, Seibels & Williams already operate.

The deal has been approved by the directors of BB&T Corporation (NYSE: BBT) and Union Bank holding company UnionBanCal Corporation (NYSE: UB). It is expected to be completed by the end of the second quarter pending regulatory approval. Terms were not disclosed.

"We're excited about expanding in California, the No. 1 state for insurance values in the country," said BB&T Insurance Services Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Wade Reece. "This partnership will only strengthen our overall investment on the West Coast."

Founded in 1922, BB&T Insurance Services is the nation's seventh largest insurance broker. BB&T's combined insurance operation includes 134 agencies across the country.

With 369 employees, UnionBanc Insurance Services operates offices in Pleasanton, San Rafael, Stockton and Roseville in Northern California; San Diego, Irvine, Fullerton and Glendale in Southern California; and Portland, Ore. It is the 31st largest insurance broker in the nation.

Union Bank entered the insurance brokerage business in 2001 with the acquisition of Fullerton-based Armstrong/Robitaille Business and Insurance Services. The additions of 115-year-old John Burnham and Company in 2002 and Pleasanton-based Tanner Insurance Brokers in 2003 expanded the company's footprint into San Diego and Northern California. In late 2003, Glendale-based Knight Insurance Agency joined the company.

UnionBanc Insurance Services is expected to operate as a wholly owned BB&T insurance subsidiary after the acquisition is completed. Martin Loth, who currently manages the McGriff, Seibels & Williams office in Irvine, would oversee the new West Coast subsidiary of BB&T Insurance Services.

When the acquisition is completed, BB&T plans to consolidate the UnionBanc Insurance Services offices in San Rafael and Roseville into "BB&T-Tanner Insurance" in Pleasanton and Stockton. It also plans to operate "BB&T Insurance Services of Orange County" in Fullerton and Irvine, "BB&T-John Burnham Insurance" in San Diego, and "BB&T-Knight Insurance" in Glendale. It plans to combine the Portland office of UnionBanc Insurance Services with BB&T's existing McGriff office there.

"We've made a decision to exit the insurance brokerage business in order to concentrate our efforts on enhancing other core fee-based lines of business, including wealth and asset management, institutional services, and capital markets-related activities," said Johannes (Johs) Worsoe, a senior executive vice president with Union Bank and head of its Global & Wealth Markets Group.

"We view insurance services as a critical component of our clients' financial services needs. By entering into this transaction with BB&T, our clients will have a broader offering of insurance and risk management services by a nationally recognized leader and a company we know will continue our high level of client service."

Merrill Lynch & Co. served as a financial advisor to Union Bank in the transaction; Shearman & Sterling LLP served as the company's legal advisor.

BB&T Insurance Services, McGriff, Seibels & Williams and CRC Insurance Services are wholly owned subsidiaries of BB&T Corporation principal subsidiary Branch Banking and Trust Company. BB&T acquired CRC in 2002 and McGriff two years later. Both companies are based in Birmingham, Ala.

Headquartered in San Francisco, UnionBanCal Corporation is a bank holding company with $55.7 billion in assets at year-end. Its principal subsidiary, Union Bank of California, N.A., had 330 banking offices in California, Oregon and Washington, and two international offices at year-end. The company's Web site is http://www.unionbank.com.

With $136.4 billion in assets, Winston-Salem, N.C.-based BB&T Corporation is the nation's 14th largest financial holding company. It operates nearly 1,500 financial centers in 11 states and Washington, D.C. More information about the company is available at http://www.BBT.com.

SOURCE BB&T Corporation