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BB&T, SunTrust merge to create titan in US

February 9, 2019

Staff and wire reports

Southern banking giants BB&T and SunTrust announced they would merge in a $66 billion deal, the first big bank merger since the chaos of the 2008 financial crisis. The deal would create yet another financial titan in the U.S.

The combined company will be the sixth-largest retail bank in the country, putting BB&T and SunTrust in the ranks of other megabanks like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

The banks said Thursday that the combined company will have $442 billion in assets, $301 billion in loans and $324 billion in deposits serving more than 10 million households. The two banks’ market share will make them a formidable presence in the South, particularly in growing parts of the country like Atlanta and Nashville, Tennessee. The companies operate banks from Pennsylvania to Florida, and as far west as Texas.

BB&T has dozens of branches throughout West Virginia, including three in the Huntington area. A new branch was constructed at 507 1st St. and opened in 2018.

SunTrust closed its last five West Virginia branches - all of which were in Kroger stores in Kanawha and Putnam counties - last year.

Big bank mergers had been nonexistent after the financial crisis, when a flurry of government-directed mergers created a handful of megabanks. Wells Fargo merged with Wachovia, JPMorgan acquired Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual and Bank of America purchased Merrill Lynch. Most bank mergers stopped after the crisis because the banks had to clean up their balance sheets, and the regulatory environment under the Obama administration made mergers more difficult.

Since that time, the gap between the size of the big Wall Street banks and the regional banks like BB&T, SunTrust, PNC Bank, Fifth-Third and others has only widened. The only bank with the size and scale of the new merged BB&T-SunTrust would be Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank, which has a large presence in the Midwest and Rocky Mountains. But even U.S. Bank with $456 billion in assets is dwarfed by the next largest institution, Citigroup, which has more than $1.4 trillion in assets.

Some analysts believesthat with attention of the SunTrust-BB&T deal, as well as the easier regulatory environment, more large bank mergers may be coming.

Under the terms of the deal, SunTrust shareholders will receive 1.295 shares of BB&T for each share they own. BB&T shareholders will own about 57 percent of the combined company and SunTrust shareholders will own the rest - creating roughly a merger of equals. The new merged bank will have a new name, the companies said, and will be headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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