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BB&T, SunTrust to merge
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BB&T's downtown Covington location is one of the two locations in the city. - photo by Jackie Gutknecht

COVINGTON, Ga. - Two prominent banks based in the South will merge later this year to create one of the biggest banks in the nation.

Officials from BB&T and Atlanta-based SunTrust are calling the $66 billion deal a “merger of equals.”

The banks announced the deal Thursday morning and said both companies’ boards of directors have given unanimous approval to a definitive agreement to the all-stock deal.

The combined bank will be the sixth-largest U.S. bank based on assets and deposits, with about $442 billion in assets, $301 billion in loans and $324 billion in deposits.

Officials said the deal is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year. The combined bank will be based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and operate under a new name and brand. The combined company’s board and executive management team will be split evenly between the two institutions.

The history of BB&T in Newton County dates to the founding of The Bank of Covington in 1901. The bank became known as Main Street Banks in the 1990s, and BB&T acquired it in 2006.

BB&T already has the largest market share in Newton County, just ahead of Columbus-based Synovus. BB&T holds some 23.68 percent of deposits in the county, at about $236.5 million.

The main local office is at 1134 Clark St. SW in downtown Covington. There’s also a branch at 3110 Highway 278 NE.

SunTrust operates a branch inside the Covington Kroger at 3139 Highway 278 NE.

Although Atlanta will be losing a banking headquarters, it will retain the new bank’s Wholesale Banking Center.

The bank’s Community Banking Center will be located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where BB&T is based.

“This is a true merger of equals, combining the best of both companies to create the premier financial institution of the future,” BB&T Chairman and CEO Kelly S. King said.

“It’s an extraordinarily attractive financial proposition that provides the scale needed to compete and win in the rapidly evolving world of financial services.”

William H. “Bill” Rogers Jr., the chairman and CEO of SunTrust, agreed.

“With our geographic position, enhanced scale and leading financial profile, these two companies will achieve substantially more for clients, teammates, associates, communities and shareholders than we could alone.”

King will serve as the chairman and CEO of the combined company until Sept. 12, 2021, and then as the executive chairman for the next six months and remain on the board of directors until the end of 2023.

Rogers will serve as the president and chief operating officer until he succeeds King in 2021 as CEO. He also will hold a seat on the board of directors and become chairman on March 12, 2022.

David M. Ratcliffe, current lead director of SunTrust, will serve as the lead director of the combined company until March 12, 2022, after which the lead director will be a legacy BB&T director.

The branding change likely means a new name for the Atlanta Braves’ stadium in Cobb County. SunTrust Park opened in 2017.