Banks’ merger leads to ques­tions

Groups that got sup­port from both SunTrust and BB&T wait to see how it af­fects them.

Tampa Bay Times - - Front Page - BY RICHARD DANIELSON Times Staff Writer

Both SunTrust and BB&T have sup­ported Tampa Bay area eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions, so how will the banks’ merger af­fect that sup­port? The banks haven’t said, and non­profit lead­ers say it’s too soon to guess.

When the CEOs of SunTrust and BB&T got on the phone with stock an­a­lysts this week, one of the first things they said was bank­ing is chang­ing, so to grow they must be ready to shake up their own com­pa­nies.

“The ul­ti­mate dis­rupt to thrive,” BB&T chair­man and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Kelly King said of the $66 bil­lion BB&T-SunTrust merger an­nounced Thurs­day. “This will be a great com­bi­na­tion for our clients, for our as­so­ciates, for our com­mu­ni­ties and for our share­hold­ers.”

But among the ques­tions to be worked out — and there are a lot of them — is whether the merger’s dis­rup­tion will ex­tend to the Tampa Bay area eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions. The banks have sup­ported them with sub­stan­tial amounts of money, vol­un­teer hours and lead­er­ship.

At the non­profit Tampa Bay Part­ner­ship, a re­gional busi­ness-sup­ported or­ga­ni­za­tion that fo­cuses on big is­sues like build­ing a skilled work force, SunTrust con­trib­utes at

the $50,000 or more level. The bank’s re­gional pres­i­dent, Tim Schar, sits on the board of gover­nors, and Schar’s pre­de­ces­sor, Allen Brinkman, chaired the or­ga­ni­za­tion. BB&T con­trib­utes at least $25,000 and Jim Daly, Schar’s coun­ter­part, serves on the part­ner­ship’s lead­er­ship coun­cil.

Both also pro­vide fi­nan­cial sup­port — at least $25,000 from SunTrust and $5,000 from BB&T — to the St. Peters­burg Area Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Corp. On Thurs­day night, SunTrust St. Peters­burg mar­ket pres­i­dent Jill Wilkin­son was named the group’s sec­re­tary-trea­surer. SunTrust sup­ports the Tam­paHills­bor­ough Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Corp. with an­other $50,000. Both banks like­wise have ex­ec­u­tives serv­ing as non­vot­ing mem­bers on the board of gover­nors at the St. Peters­burg Cham­ber of Com­merce.

Will this kind and level of sup­port change with one bank in­stead of two? The banks haven’t said, and non­profit lead­ers say it’s too soon to guess.

At the Tampa Bay Part­ner­ship, where the $1.6 mil­lion bud­get comes en­tirely from the pri­vate sec­tor, “we ex­pect a cer­tain amount of this dur­ing the year and we ad­just to it as we go for­ward,” pres­i­dent and CEO Rick Ho­mans said.

“This merger is go­ing to take a while to work it­self out and for changes to be made,” so “our take on it is it’s likely those kinds of de­ci­sions haven’t been made yet,” St. Peters­burg Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Corp. pres­i­dent J.P. DuBuque said. “Since they’re both al­ready great sup­port­ers of the com­mu­nity, I would think that what the com­bined bank would do would be good.”

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