Synovus Financial Corp. shot out of the gate Friday in trading on the New York Stock Exchange, with shares surging nearly $13 apiece to $23.70.
The euphoria was short-lived, however, with the stock retreating within an hour and then trending lower the rest of the day. Still, the Columbus-based regional bankholding firm managed a 3-percent gain, finishing up 35 cents at $11.35.
It was the second straight strong performance for bank stocks following a harrowing rollercoaster ride all week that saw the overall market plunge through Wednesday, then rally dramatically Thursday and Friday. Synovus shares were up 75 cents Thursday.
Wachovia, the No. 2 bank in Columbus, posted a 29-percent gain Friday, climbing $4.25 per share and closing at $18.75. Shares of SunTrust, the No. 3 bank in the city, rose $4.15 apiece, closing at $59.20, a 7.5 percent gain.
The No. 1 bank by market share locally is Columbus Bank and Trust Co., an affiliate of Synovus.
Government officials expressed intentions Thursday to corral the banking industry's bad loan and mortgage debt into a single entity, or agency, easing convulsions in the nation's financial sector.
The move is aimed at freeing banks up to concentrate more on their core business rather than continue to grapple with the debt. That, in turn, would steady the nation's economy, officials hope.
Synovus has suffered significantly in recent months. While subprime mortgage lending isn't on its financial books, the company has had to deal with homebuilders going bust, particularly in Atlanta and Florida. It wrote off $94 million of bad debt in the second quarter from property it couldn't shed via sales and auctions.
Last week, the company announced a restructuring with plans to eliminate 650 jobs, about 230 of them in Columbus. It has 7,100 employees companywide, with more than 1,600 on the payroll locally.
On Thursday, the company also moved to put in more checks and balances, creating an executive position called "chief risk officer." Veteran banker Mark Holladay, formerly chief credit officer at Synovus, fills that position.
"Establishing the chief risk officer position is a significant step in ensuring we maintain high, stringent standards for managing enterprise risk," Richard Anthony, Synovus chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement.
Another new position, chief commercial officer, is being filled by Roy Dallis Copeland Jr., formerly president and CEO of Citizens First Bank in Rome, Ga.
Kevin Howard, meanwhile, becomes chief credit officer. He formerly was senior vice president and credit manager at Synovus.
Synovus oversees more than $34 billion in assets through its 35 banks in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee.
OTHER LOCAL STOCKS
It was a mixed bag Friday for other stocks of local interest.
Supplemental insurer Aflac Inc. gave back a slice of its $7.79-per-share haul on Thursday. Aflac shares were down 67 cents Friday to $63.58, a 1 percent decline.
Credit-card processor TSYS rose 53 cents, or 3 percent, closing at $18.04 per share.
Movie-theater chain Carmike Cinemas was up 19 cents, or 5 percent, to $3.95 per share.