Executives at regional bank holding company Synovus Financial on Friday said they plan to redeem $968 million in preferred shares issued to the U.S. Treasury under the Troubled Assets Relief Program. The Georgia-based parent of The Bank of Nashville plans to sell $315 million in common and preferred shares and fund the rest of the payback through an upstream dividend from Synovus Bank.
“Today’s announcement of our planned TARP redemption represents the culmination of a journey to return Synovus to a position of strength,” said Kessel Stelling, Synovus Chairman and CEO. “We laid out and successfully executed a clear, deliberate, and aggressive plan to return Synovus to sustainable profitability. Key components of the plan included taking significant actions to strengthen credit quality, stabilize and remix the balance sheet, and improve operating efficiency while investing in the talent and technology that will enable us to support growth and enhance the customer experience.”
First Freedom Bank in Lebanon has a new set of shareholders following the auction last week by the U.S. Treasury of the stake it took in the bank under the TARP umbrella several years ago. Investors last week paid almost $8.3 million for the government's First Freedom preferred shares, 92.5 percent of par value. That's a good bit better than what the Treasury received in late September when it auctioned off its $18 million investment in the parent of Clarksville's F&M Bank.
After a brief delay due to superstorm Sandy, officials at the U.S. Treasury on Thursday wrapped up their latest auction of their preferred stock and subordinated debt holdings in 11 community banks from around the country. Among the investments up for sale was $8.7 million worth of preferreds issued by the parent of Lebanon's First Freedom Bank. A successful auction will make six-year-old First Freedom the fourth area community bank holding company to exit TARP's Capital Purchase Program, following the parent companies of Avenue Bank, Pinnacle Bank and Clarksville's F&M Bank.
Regions Financial CEO Grayson Hall can see the light at the end of the TARP tunnel. His team announced Tuesday afternoon that the parent of Middle Tennessee's largest bank will sell $900 million of common shares that, combined with proceeds from the pending sale of Morgan Keegan, will enable it to pay back the Treasury's $3.5 billion investment under the auspices of the Troubled Assets Relief Program.
Investors pushed Regions shares (Ticker: RF) up more than 4 percent after hours on the news, which came shortly after federal officials said Regions was one of the 15 large U.S. banks that passed its latest series of stress tests. (Area No. 3 SunTrust did not get a sufficient grade.) If those gains hold during Wednesday's session, it'll be the first time since late July that Regions changes hands above $6.
SEE ALSO: An analyst's call a month ago that Regions would need to raise far less than expected to redeem its TARP obligations
Count Craig Siegenthaler as a bull on Regions Financial: The Credit Suisse analyst on Friday raised his rating on the bank holding company (Ticker: RF) to 'outperform' even though it's up by more than a third since mid-November. Among the main reasons is his expectation that President and CEO Grayson Hall will raise only about $800 million to help him pay off Regions' TARP obligation, while the consensus has been well above $1 billion.
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