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

D. Bryan Jordan, chairman, president and chief executive of Memphis-based First Horizon National Corp., has a lot on his plate.

The company recently announced a union with 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.

Also, First Horizon, the parent of Chattanooga's biggest bank that was known for many years as First Tennessee, has said it will acquire 30 SunTrust Bank branch offices containing $2.4 billion in customer deposits in Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

Jordan and Chattanooga Market President Jay Dale recently spoke about the two deals and the company's future. Here are some of their remarks:

 

Q: What about the Iberiabank deal? Is it on track to close?

Jordan: We just announced it a week ago so we have a couple hurdles to deal with early next year. We have shareholder votes from both sets of shareholders to achieve and we also have to get approval from our regulators, but I'm optimistic on both fronts.

My guess is it will be some time in the second quarter of next year before the transaction actually closes. Between now and then, we have a lot of work to do in terms of planning the integration, how we minimize the impact on employees and the markets in general.

some text 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.

 

Q: What will the union of those two banks mean for customers?

Jordan: It's actually pretty exciting. We have a merger of equals, two similarly sized organizations. As we thought about putting the organization together, it was really, really clear to us we could be better together than we could on an individual basis — that we could invest more in technology and more areas of technology.

(Read more: First Horizon earnings beat forecasts on strong loan, deposit growth)

Q: Are those the principal advantages of that deal?

Jordan: There are several. On a combined basis we'll create over a billion dollars in shareholder value by achieving efficiencies we couldn't get individually. We'll have a much bigger geographic reach for our customers. We'll have an 11 state footprint. We'll have a bigger balance sheet. We'll have the ability to invest more in customer relationships, do larger loans, larger transactions with our customer base.

Dale: We'll be in 17 of the 20 largest MSA areas in the Southeast. As folks travel, use the ATM, their kids go to college, they won't have to change accounts. Family members and friends, as they move out of Chattanooga, they now have more options. Commercial clients said we've got locations not just in Chattanooga. We'll have accounts in other cities.

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

Q: Is there any concern about the breadth of the company? Any concern about serving customers and not losing touch?

Jordan: That's the first thing we worked on is do we have business models and cultures that would go together and allow us to continue to serve our communities and customers in the same way that we both go to market today which is, like in Chattanooga here, with strong leadership, decision-making capability.

 

Q: Let's talk about the SunTrust Bank transaction as well. What about that deal?

Jordan: We were fortunate enough to win a bidding process for 30 branches, about $2.5 billion of deposits that were going to be divested by SunTrust and BB&T. It really strengthens our presence in the Carolinas, particularly in Winston-Salem, Durham and Chapel Hill. It puts us in a very strong market position. We also pick up some branches in North Georgia and Southern Virginia. I'm very excited about what that does for us in terms of strengthening those market positions. I think what they'll see with us is a strong commitment from the communities we serve.

 

Q: You all have been very active. Are you still looking?

Jordan: Right now we're looking to get done what we've already teed up. We have a full plate right now. We fundamentally are excited about these two opportunities and think that getting those right and executed properly is the most important thing we can focus on today. That's not to say we won't be opportunistic in the future, but we believe this really does create something that is truly unique, a powerhouse financial services firm in the South and we're excited about getting this done in the next 12 to 18 months.

 

Q: Looking at the economy what's your outlook for next year?

Jordan: I'm optimistic for next year. I think the economy is fundamentally strong. The consumer which drives 70% of the economy continues to do well. Maybe the most important thing is a lot people are working, job creation continues to be good , unemployment is low. That's a very good sign. I think we can grow at 2-2.5% fairly consistently. There's a recession coming, there always is, but I don't see it as being imminent. If we can work out these tariff issues with China, that will further strengthen the growth we have in the economy.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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