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Big Bank Merger Fallout


SunTrust Bank

The decade-long drought in big bank mergers ended last week when southern regional banks BB&T Corp. and Sun Trust Banks Inc. agreed to a $66 billion merger to create the sixth-largest U. S. retail bank with major implications for Atlanta, Charlotte and Orlando.

The new combined company will be based in Charlotte, meanwhile keeping a wholesale banking center in Atlanta, where SunTrust has its headquarters.

In Orlando, the two banks represent Central Florida’s largest financial institutions. They have a combined 92 offices and control $12.8 billion of deposits in Central Florida, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Real estate observers agreed it was generally too soon to determine most implications of the deal but there was some early speculation.

  • In Charlotte, the announced decision by BB&T and SunTrust Banks to combine into a new firm that will be based there marks a reversal of the city’s recent trend of losing bank headquarters. The city’s boosters have long vied with San Francisco to boast the title of second largest banking center. That has varied with rankings based on the value of loans and other assets. Charlotte has struggled to hold onto that “second largest” title as banks have been combined with larger ones but the merger fostered new hopes the city would move towards more banking centers.

  • In Orlando, the banks are two of Central Florida’s largest financial institutions. The better-known SunTrust has long been a major influence in the local office market and the economy in general. It was already the region’s largest bank before the merger with about 21 percent of area deposits.

SunTrust moving this year to new 28-story downtown tower

SunTrust is the namesake of the downtown SunTrust Center, the tallest building in Orlando at 441 feet and 32 stories. Later this year, it has plans to move into the new SunTrust Plaza at Church Street Station, taking 90,000 square feet in the 28-story building under construction.

  • In Atlanta, the all-stock deal that was the largest U.S. bank merger since the financial crisis more than a decade ago could have the most impact.

In a call with Wall Street analysts this month, Colin Connolly, president and CEO of Cousins Properties Inc. pointed out that Atlanta will remain SunTrust's corporate and investment banking hub.

"So here within the city, they've got, call it 1.5 million square feet," Connolly said in the call. "I'd say a vast majority of that is in downtown Atlanta. But, we would (probably) not expect to see a material change there."

The area is coming off a record year for office building and leasing. But the two banks have offices throughout the area.

“SunTrust will maintain a large presence in Atlanta, but it's possible the bank will consolidate much of its office space across the city,” speculated the Atlanta Business Chronicle.