Bank realignments: First Horizon to buy 30 SunTrust branches

Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / First Horizon Bank, formerly First Tennessee Bank, is seen on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019 in Chattanooga

The South's biggest regional banks continue to reshape the landscape of bank names and branches with First Horizon agreeing Friday to buy 30 bank offices from SunTrust Bank to help clear the way for the merger of SunTrust and BB&T next year.

Five days after announcing its plans to buy and merge with Louisiana's biggest bank, First Horizon announced Friday it plans to acquire 30 SunTrust branches in North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia, and assume another $2.4 billion in deposits.

SunTrust is selling its offices in Durham, Chapel Hill and Winston-Salem, North Carolina - along with smaller sites in Virginia and Georgia - to allay anti-trust and other regulatory requirements for SunTrust's pending merger with BB&T.

SunTrust and BB&T announced plans in February to combine in a merger of equals to create the nation's sixth biggest bank with $442 billion in assets. The combined bank will be known as Truist Bank.

Ahead of the merger to gain regulatory approval, SunTrust is selling 30 of its 1,161 branches where the locations are near existing BB&T offices. Regulators want to preserve competition for consumers at such sites and encouraged the sale of those branches to another bank.

photo Staff photo by Dave Flessner / The First Horizon name went up atop Chattanooga's biggest bank last month. This week, the bank announced plans to buy the biggest bank in Louisiana and 30 branches from SunTrust Bank.

The branch purchases by First Horizon are scheduled to be completed in early 2020, subject to regulatory approval, and First Horizon said it plans to retain all current SunTrust employees in the acquired branches.

"First Horizon is excited to welcome new employees and customers to our family," First Horizon CEO Bryan Jordan said in an announcement of the branch purchases. "We are proud of the tradition of trust we have earned for more than 155 years and look forward to working with BB&T and SunTrust to design a seamless onboarding experience."

First Horizon, which dropped its First Tennessee bank name last month to reflect the bank's growing footprint across the Southeast, agreed on Monday to buy Iberiabank Corp., based in Lafayette, Louisiana, in an all-stock deal valued at $31.7 billion - the second biggest U.S. bank deal of 2019.

With the addition of Iberiabank and the SunTrust branches, First Horizon assets are expected to swell to nearly $80 billion next year. First Horizon is already the biggest bank in Tennessee and in the metro Chattanooga market.

First Horizon will assume approximately $2.4 billion in deposits from the SunTrust branch purchases for a deposit premium of 3.4%, and will purchase approximately $410 million in loans.

"We are pleased to have found a buyer that will retain the jobs of talented teammates and continue to foster the strong client relationships we have established in these branches," said SunTrust CEO Bill Rogers.

Kelly King, BB&T's chairman and CEO, said the sale of the SunTrust branches "marks another significant and required step toward the merger of equals between BB&T and SunTrust."

Contact Dave Flessner at or at 423-757-6340.