Local

Amos, Anthony appear on "Squawk Box"

Two Columbus executives had to answer some tough questions Tuesday morning.

Aflac Chairman and CEO Dan Amos was a guest co-host on "Squawk Box," the morning pre-stock market show on financial cable news network CNBC. One of Amos' guests was Synovus Chairman and CEO Richard Anthony.

The appearances came as both companies are battling through difficult issues. For Aflac, it is lagging policy sales in the U.S. and Japan. For Synovus, it is a 93-percent drop in second quarter earnings that mirror the economic woes facing financial service institutions.

"That's part of it," Amos said after his appearance. "You are not going to get the soft questions. It is there job to delve into an issue and confront a company. All companies have issues. Some years, those questions are tougher than others. I was glad to answer the question about Japan sales."

Aflac, a supplemental insurance company that does business in the U.S. and Japan, saw Japanese second-quarter sales decline 4.9 percent from a year ago when they forecast to be flat.

Amos looked forward in his answer.

"We expect the fourth quarter to be strong," Amos said. The company is altering its Japan sales distribution system, making policies available in banks and the post office. This should strengthen future sales, Amos said.

Amos was on the show's New Jersey set, while Anthony did his interview via satellite from the Synovus headquarters in downtown Columbus.

Anthony's questions were about the struggles in the banking industry, which are many in this economic climate. He was asked about Synovus' problems with construction and housing loans.

"We have been very proactive and aggressive in recognizing and handling our problems," Anthony said.

Synovus has an excess of capital -- cash -- because of the spinoff of electronic payment processor TSYS. Anthony got to repeat his catch phrase he has been using in these difficult economic times.

He said Synovus was position to roll out of it when the economy turns because "cash is king."

Anthony's five-minute segment, moved quickly, with abrupt subject changes.

"These interviews are generally fast paced," Anthony said. "The hardest thing is to chose your words carefully and talk fast."

Amos dealt with a variety of subjects and guests, including New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine and U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.

Corzine attended Sen. Barack Obama's econmic summit Monday and that was a hot topic. Amos said he was comfortable with Corzine, who once worked on Wall Street, because the two have known each other for more than a decade.

"I like him as a person and we got to talk a little ahead of time," Amos said.

When Corzine and the hosts were talking about short selling stocks, the New Jersey governor got to give Aflac a plug.

"You don't short sell these guys," he said of Aflac. "They make real money."

Amos said the day went well.

"It went like it was supposed to," he said.

  Comments