Four longtime Synovus Financial Corp. board members are stepping down this spring, making way for two non-Columbus executives with the banking firm battling back from a financial abyss.
Columbus-based Synovus said today that Daniel P. Amos, Gardiner W. Garrard Jr., Elizabeth C. Ogie and William B. “Brad” Turner Jr. will not seek re-election to the company’s board at its annual meeting April 22 at the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts.
Being nominated in their place are Joseph J. Prochaska, a former MetLife executive, and Catherine A. Allen, head of the consulting firm The Sante Fe Group.
“On behalf of the company and the entire board, I would like to thank Dan, Gardiner, Elizabeth and Brad for their long-time service, important contributions and commitment to Synovus,” Richard Anthony, Synovus board chairman, said in a statement.
Both Anthony and Kessel Stelling, Synovus president and chief executive officer, welcomed Prochaska and Allen to the board, pending their election to it.
“Their impressive business and industry experience will further diversify our board and provide additional expertise and oversight as we continue to execute our long-term strategy,” Stelling said in a statement. “Our priorities continue to be returning Synovus to profitability and pursuing growth opportunities throughout our footprint.”
Synovus, which dates to 1888 and is parent company of Columbus Bank and Trust Co., operates banks in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee. It oversees more than $30 billion in assets.
The company, like many other banks across the U.S., has suffered financially from loan losses and the impact of the Great Recession, which ended in the summer of 2009. Synovus has reported 10 straight quarterly losses, with loan chargeoffs nearing $3 billion. It also has cut its work force sharply, eliminating more than 2,000 jobs since 2008. It will have just under 5,300 people on its payroll when the latest cuts are completed in the coming weeks.
Amos, Garrard, Ogie and Turner are among 18 directors on the Synovus board, which essentially serves as an advisory panel for the company when it makes critical decisions on strategy, financial matters and other issues.Amos is chairman and CEO of supplemental insurer Aflac Inc., while Garrard is chairman of The Jordan Company, a real-estate firm. Ogie is a private investor, while Turner is an executive with the W.C. Bradley Co. They all are from Columbus.
Nominated board member Prochaska, 60, served as executive vice president and chief accounting officer of MetLife Inc. from 2003 to 2009. His previous experience also includes various executive positions with Aon Corp., Aon Group Inc. and Aon Financial Services Group. He currently is on the boards of Baird & Warner Inc. and Xylogenics Inc. He also is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the National Association of Corporate Directors and Financial Executive Institute.
Allen, 64, is chairman and chief executive officer of The Santa Fe Group, a consulting firm specializing in handling strategic industry and institutional projects for financial institutions and other infrastructure groups. She also is the founding CEO of BITS, a division of the Financial Services Roundtable. BITS works closely with large financial institutions on a variety of strategic issues. She also has held various executive positions at Citigroup in the retail, bankcard and technology divisions. She is a member of the New Mexico State Investment Council and serves on the boards of the Stewart Information Services Corp., El Paso Electric Co. and the advisory board of Citibank Global Transaction Services.
The change in board members at Synovus comes with the Financial Times of London reporting last week that the regional bank has contacted investment bankers for advice, including the possible sale of the company. Stelling, in previous interviews with the Ledger-Enquirer, has said the company is focused on turning a profit, not being acquired.
Synovus shares, in lunch-hour trading on the New York Stock Exchange, was up 12 cents, or 4.6 percent, to $2.68. The stock’s 52-week trading range is $1.94 to $3.92 per share. Its market value is just over $2 billion.