BB&T, SunTrust tout community benefit of megadeal amid critics’ concerns

Winston-Salem Journal, May 4, 2019: BB&T, SunTrust tout community benefit of megadeal amid critics’ concerns

The community and socio-economic effects of BB&T Corp. buying SunTrust Banks Inc. dominated the first of two public regulatory meetings about their proposed $66 billion megadeal.

BB&T’s purchase of SunTrust, announced Feb. 7, has been touted as the largest bank transaction in at least 10 years and potentially transformative for the financial industry. BB&T shareholders would have a 57% stake in the new combined bank.

The chairman and chief executive of BB&T, Kelly King, and his SunTrust counterpart, William Rogers Jr., focused their presentations at the public hearing in Charlotte on trying to reassure the Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., as well as attendees, of the benefits of the megadeal in their banking markets.

Critics of the merger, meanwhile, questioned whether the banks’ likely consolidation efforts, in terms of closed branches and laid-off employees, would do more economic harm than good.

The combined bank would be the sixth largest in the U.S., with $442 billion in total assets — within striking distance of US Bancorp at the top of the regional-bank tier.

Sharon Jeffries-Jones, BB&T’s director of corporate social responsibility and community reinvestment, said BB&T has provided more than $27 billion in affordable mortgage loans just in this decade.

Jeffries-Jones said the banks have held six listening sessions — in Winston-Salem; Atlanta; Baltimore; Philadelphia; Richmond, Va.; and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — in partnership with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

“We heard communities’ concerns and recommendations related to the merger, and this information will be used to formulate our community benefits plan,” she said. “This plan will guide many of the reinvestment programs at the combined company,” she said.

“We consistently heard four key themes: the importance of affordable housing for families; financial sustainability for individuals and businesses; philanthropic support for communities; and diversity and inclusion at every level in our footprint,” she said.

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