Big banks get bigger

Mergers propel PNC to Alabama's No. 2 spot; Cadence to 6th in Southeast

A former BBVA branch in Gulf Shores has new PNC signage. Photo by Erica West

In October 2021, two of the biggest banking presences in the state announced the completion of acquisitions that will affect a lot of Alabama customers. On Oct. 12, PNC Financial Services Group Inc. (NYSE: PNC) officially completed its acquisition of BBVA USA Bancshares and its U.S. banking subsidiary, BBVA USA. And on Oct. 29, Cadence Bank announced it had completed its merger into BancorpSouth Bank, with BancorpSouth, the surviving company, being renamed Cadence Bank (NYSE: CADE).

Operating on a larger scale and with an increased customer base provides a lot of opportunities to be a better, more efficient organization, says Cadence Chairman and CEO Dan Rollins. “All the things that cost money for us to do our job every day, if we can spread that out over a larger base, that benefits us and allows us to provide the things we’re supposed to be focused on, which is obviously the customer-facing services and products that we have to put out.”

Dan Rollins, Cadence chairman and chief executive officer

The BancorpSouth-Cadence merger agreement, first announced in April 2021, was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies. “We’re really pleased with the way things have gone so far.” Rollins, who joined BancorpSouth in 2012 and has seen 10 acquisitions in the last four years, this being the biggest, says there are always challenges. “When you make an announcement like this, you immediately go into planning mode for integration. We work very hard to make sure that our teammates are engaged [and] informed in what we’re doing every day. I’m extremely pleased with the way things have gone so far.”

Technology also has been a primary focus during the transition, particularly as the coronavirus pandemic forced the dynamic of banking to shift. “[The merger] allows us to adopt the better of the technology from both sides and to continue to invest heavily in future technology upgrades.” From centralized customer support staff, to employees at branch locations, to its commercial bankers, Rollins says the priority remains the same: to make sure customers receive the same kind of service they’re used to electronically as they are in-person.

With dual headquarters in Tupelo, Mississippi, and Houston, Texas, the merger makes Cadence the 6th-largest bank headquartered in its nine-state footprint with $48 billion in assets. The combined company also has primary operations centers in Tupelo and Birmingham. Rollins says the ability to load balance across the two Southeast operation centers is a big plus.

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“Alabama is a big state for us,” says Rollins, “I guess it’s technically the
center of our territory, when you look at it geography-wise.” Post-merger, Cadence has just under 1,000 employees working in Alabama, close to 70 locations across the state, and $5 billion in deposits. “That’s a big, big part of our footprint.”

Pittsburgh-based PNC’s acquisition of BBVA USA, first announced in November 2020 and closed in June 2021, makes PNC the 6th-largest commercial banking organization in the nation with a presence in 29 of the country’s 30 biggest markets and a network of approximately 2,700 branch locations. On Oct. 12, PNC announced that it had completed the conversion of 2.6 million customers, 9,000 employees and nearly 600 branches in seven states, including Alabama.

The months leading up to the October conversion were spent preparing BBVA USA customers and stakeholders for the integration. That included familiarizing new clients with PNC’s digital platforms and processes like standard two-step authentication. To handle the increased demand for customer support post-conversion, PNC reallocated resources from its retail branches to customer care centers.

Specific to Alabama, the integration also included converting former BBVA USA properties like the Daniel Building and Brock Center in Birmingham to PNC facilities. The acquisition had a dramatic impact on PNC’s statewide footprint. According to the most recent FDIC Deposit Market Share Report, the acquisition of BBVA USA catapulted PNC to the number two bank in the state in deposit market share.

Nick Willis, PNC regional president for North and Central Alabama

“The Alabama market is very important to PNC’s growth, which is why we continue to invest and grow here,” says Nick Willis, PNC regional president for North and Central Alabama. “With the acquisition now complete, PNC has a significant opportunity to leverage our expanded market presence, increased investments in technology, and local expertise to deliver exceptional support and services to our customers and communities statewide.”

At the start of this year, PNC kicked off a Community Benefits Plan that was developed in connection with the BBVA USA acquisition and that builds on both organizations’ commitments to support low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities, advancing economic opportunity and addressing systemic racism.

“For nearly a decade, PNC has worked with local organizations to invest in impactful community and economic development initiatives to help empower our customers and communities,” says Willis. “Over the next few months, we’ll continue to build on this longstanding commitment with the launch of our Community Benefits Plan, which will provide $88 billion in loans, investments and charitable giving to support economic opportunity in local communities across the country.”

Over a four-year period the Community Benefits Plan will provide $47 billion in residential mortgage and home equity loans to LMI and minority borrowers and in LMI and majority-minority census tracts; $26.5 billion in loans for small business in LMI communities, majority-minority census tracts, businesses with less than $1 million in revenue and small farms; and $14.5 billion in community development loans and investments across all markets, including $400 million for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) that support the banking and financial service needs of traditionally underserved communities.

In addition, the Community Benefits Plan has specifically earmarked at least $500 million to support charitable giving and community groups in Birmingham. A Community Advisory Council will meet semi-annually to discuss the bank’s progress in its objectives and identify areas of need across PNC’s expanded footprint. Also, PNC plans to increase recruiting from historically Black colleges and universities, as well as higher education institutions that primarily serve Latinx students.

Katherine MacGilvray is a freelance writer for Business Alabama. She is based in Huntsville.

This article appeared in the February 2022 issue of Business Alabama.

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