RBC Dain Rauscher, Inc., a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada, agreed to acquire William R. Hough & Co., a private St. Petersburg, Fla.-based investment firm specializing in fixed-income sales, trading and underwriting.

The deal gives the Minneapolis-based RBC Dain Rauscher a high-profile expansion in the Florida marketplace, one of the few top municipal markets where the company lacked a physical public finance presence. In turn, Hough's customers will get access to Dain Rauscher offerings such as interest-rate swaps.

The parties did not disclose terms of the transaction, which is expected to close in spring 2004. Dain Rauscher President and CEO Brian Peters said that by adding Hough's southeastern base, the combined company will be a strong national player in municipal bonds, tax-exempt housing, student loans and education. Hough's customers will also be able to do larger deals through the company, according to Hough President W. Robb Hough, who will continue to run the Florida business and oversee Dain Rauscher's student loan and asset securitization businesses.

"We will have a diversified housing group, not only geographically, but also we will have strengths in a wide variety of sectors in housing, including servicing nonprofits, public housing authorities, low-income housing tax credits, as well as strengthened single-family," said Helen Feinberg, senior vice president of William R. Hough.

"We're seeking to increase our volume, and we'll be well-positioned to do so," Hough told Affordable Housing Finance. Feinberg, daughter of company founder William R. Hough, will run the company's housing finance business.