Synovus Exits TARP; SB&T Sharpens Focus on Hometown Businesses
Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
On July 26, Synovus announced its exit from the Troubled Asset Relief Program or TARP, the 2008 federal government program designed to curb the financial crisis. The Columbus, Ga.-based financial services company redeemed $968 million of preferred stock held by the U.S. Treasury. According to Synovus Regional CEO and SB&T CEO Mark Lane, the TARP exit is good news for the company's shareholders and represents a journey to return Synovus to a position of strength.
"The government would not have allowed us to pay back the TARP funds if we were not a healthy, strong bank," Lane said. "It's validation that the regulatory world is satisfied with us."
"The government also let us use cash for over two-thirds of the TARP payback and that's a good message as well. It shows that our liquidity position is strong."
Recent upgrades by three credit rating agencies also reflect the company's financial strength. The internally available funds used in the TARP redemption included a $680 million dividend from Synovus Bank, a wholly owned subsidiary. The balance of the redemption was funded by recently completed common and preferred stock offerings.
"It's worth noting that TARP turned out to be a good investment for the U.S. taxpayer. We paid back 100 percent of what we owed and millions of dollars in dividends to the U.S Treasury," Lane said.
Now, according to Lane, it's time for the company and its local banks to dedicate our focus to growing our revenues and helping our customers grow. The company has been profitable for the last eight consecutive quarters. Synovus has approximately $27 billion in assets across 29 locally branded divisions, which provide commercial and retail banking, investment and mortgages services to customers in more than 100 communities in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee.
A Focus on Albany's Local Businesses
As CEO of SB&T, Lane has a good understanding of the Albany economy. With a diverse industry base to stabilize the market, he believes Albany is in a good position.
"The economy isn't booming but there is a sense that the big problems are behind us," Lane said.
"That's true across the Southeast. In 2010 and maybe 2011, the economy was really poor and we would see customers with financial difficulties. That's not happening as much now."
SB&T is focused on searching out and calling on hometown businesses that were not getting attention during the tough economy. The goal is to generate growth in loans and deposits by demonstrating to small business owners that SB&T can add value to their business.
"We're more sophisticated than smaller banks and have technologies and financial products that they may not have," Lane said. "And we're smaller than the super-regional banks and can take care of folks in a more nimble way."
"We want to demonstrate to business owners that we can help them operate more efficiently. And with our experienced banking team and network of eight branches and ATMs in the SB&T footprint, we offer more geographic coverage and a level of service unmatched by other banks in our area.”
A Focus on Community
Even in the middle of the banking crisis, SB&T maintained its commitment as a community partner, according to Lane. That commitment includes service on local charity boards, sponsorship of entities like local Chamber meetings and capital campaigns for non-profits.
"Giving back to our communities is one of our core values. It's how we do business as a company," Lane said.
Lane himself has been involved on many boards over the years including Albany Tech and Darton. He currently serves as a member of the Phoebe Putney Hospital Board of Directors and just completed his term as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Deerfield Windsor School. Across Synovus, team members participated in more than 945 community projects in 2012, and contributed more than 16,000 hours of volunteer time.