Synovus marks 125th anniversary on the road to recovery

Bank plans events to mark the milestone, with third-quarter earnings report set for Oct. 22

tadams@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 14, 2013 

Come Oct. 31, it will have been 125 years since a textile mill worker’s money spilled out of her snagged dress and onto the floor of a downtown factory.

It was that day in 1888 that an executive with the Eagle & Phenix offered to put the woman’s money in the company’s safe and pay her interest.

That fateful move led to more mill workers doing the same and, thus, the financial genesis of what would become Columbus Bank and Trust took place. The bankholding company, CB&T Bancshares, took the name of Synovus Financial Corp. in 1989.

That history will be front and center in the coming weeks as Synovus marks its anniversary with a series of events, ranging from appreciation weeks for employees and customers to an outreach program in which the company hopes to help 125 community organizations.

Synovus Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Kessel Stelling also is scheduled to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Nov. 13.

“Celebrating 125 years in business is certainly a significant milestone for any company, but this anniversary is especially meaningful considering the challenges in our recent history,” said Stelling in a statement. “We are grateful for the loyalty of our shareholders, customers and team members, and deeply appreciate the community partnerships we have built through the years.”

The regional bank, its headquarters overlooking the Chattahoochee River and its new-found whitewater rapids, ran into some hard times amid the housing- and mortgage-fueled crisis and the Great Recession.

Synovus has been working loan losses and damaged assets off its books since 2008, with the company having turned a profit a year ago. It repaid nearly $1 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) money to the federal government in the last quarter.

The company is scheduled to release its third-quarter earnings report in a week (Oct. 22). Thomson Financial surveys of Wall Street analysts who cover the bank indicate it should post a profit of 4 cents per share in the July-September period. The profit is forecast to be a nickel per share in the fourth quarter and 14 cents for all of 2013, then 20 cents per share for 2014 as a whole.

In other recent news and filings involving Synovus:

• Longtime executive vice president, general counsel and secretary Samuel Hatcher informed the company he expects to retire in the first or second quarter of next year.

• An equipment financing group is being set up to help increase revenue growth companywide, with the group headed by John Geist and based out of Charleston, S.C.

• Zacks Investment Research upgraded its outlook for Synovus stock shares from “neutral” to “outperform” because of the expense cuts the bank has made and the cash at its disposal. Its dealings in the residential real estate markets and continued low interest rates remain concerns, Zacks said.

Synovus oversees roughly $27 billion in assets through its 280 bank offices in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee. It does business in nearly 170 cities.

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