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BB&T-SunTrust merger approved; banks to become Truist on Dec. 6

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The proposed merger of BB&T and SunTrust cleared one of the final hurdles last week as federal regulators approved the $28.2 billion deal.

“We are pleased to have received regulatory approval to merge two strong companies with complementary business models and a high level of cultural alignment,” BB&T Chairman and CEO Kelly King said in a statement. “We’ll be even better together for our clients, teammates, communities and shareholders.”

The Federal Reserve issued an 80-page report Nov. 19 detailing the investigation into the deal that would create the country’s sixth-largest commercial bank. One-thousand and fifty individuals, community groups and nonprofit organizations submitted written comments about the merger.

“A majority of the commenters supported the proposal,” the report states. “Many of these commenters contended that the proposal would benefit communities and community organizations throughout the footprints of BB&T and SunTrust through increased resources and services provided by the combined organization.”

There were some detractors who questioned the merger’s public benefit and whether the combined bank would pose a risk to the country’s financial stability by being “too big to fail.” Others expressed concerns about job losses, particularly in rural communities. BB&T has said displaced workers will be offered market-rate severance packages and assistance with job searches.

“Nevertheless, the potential for job losses resulting from a merger is outside of the limited statutory factors that the board is authorized to consider when reviewing an application or notice under the (Bank Holding Company Act),” according to the report.

Approval from the Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. paves the way for the banks to merge as Truist Financial Corp. by Friday, Dec. 6. Officials said the conversion to the new brand will take place over the next two years.

Earlier this month, a federal district court approved giving BB&T and SunTrust until early December to respond to a lawsuit by Truliant Federal Credit Union challenging the combined bank’s name.

“When a consumer searches online for a Truliant location or information about a Truliant product or service, while typing in ‘Truliant’ a search engine may automatically populate results including ‘Truist’ and redirect consumers to that entity, especially given the direct geographic overlap in the respective markets,” Truliant President Todd Hall said in a press release. “And bigger problems with brand confusion exist as financial institutions’ digital ecosystems incorporate the next wave of retail-tech game-changers.”

Truliant’s name has been in use since 1999, and communities in the Triad and Charlotte area are expected to have both Truliant and Truist branches. BB&T officials have remained mum on the lawsuit, but the announcement of the Truist name in June was met with significant pushback from consumers. Truist representatives have not disclosed plans for the merged company logo or wording of signs on branches and sponsored venues such as the stadium at Barton College.

Construction crews have made significant progress lately on the facade for the new $35 million BB&T building in historic downtown Wilson with sights on finishing by next summer.

“I’m excited that BB&T, as a longtime corporate citizen in Wilson, is at the heart of the downtown redevelopment efforts and I expect as the merger concludes, their investment will continue in downtown and beyond,” Simons said.

Visit tinyurl.com/sogjtx2 to read the 80-page federal report.

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