Standard and Poor's upgrades Synovus’ credit rating and outlook

An improving financial picture has prompted Standard and Poor’s to upgrade the credit rating of Synovus Financial Corp. and its overall outlook to positive.

The upgrade, posted by Standard & Poor’s on Feb. 28, raises the Columbus-based regional bank’s counterparty credit rating from B to B+, meaning it is less likely to default on its debt. S&P’s long-term rating on Synovus Bank, the corporation’s name for its operating banks, was raised from BB- to BB, with an overall “positive” outlook.

Standard & Poor’s pointed to improvement in Synovus’ ability to repay the $968 million it owes the U.S. government through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The company in the fourth quarter of 2012 sold a large portion of problem real-estate loans, while also using $800 million in deferred tax assets to offset its tax liability.

S&P credit analyst Robert Hansen noted the bank’s business position has been raised from “weak” to “moderate” as the company has sold off distressed assets.

“We also believe that management has been successful in executing its strategic plan,” Hansen said in a statement. Expectations are that Synovus will see steady improvement in 2013.

The company has undergone two major restructurings since 2008, cutting more than 2,400 jobs companywide, and is now looking to cut $30 million more from its expenses this year. Its latest reported staff count was 4,963.

— Tony Adams