Susquehanna Bank branch Oregon Pike

Shown is the Susquehanna Bank branch at 1676 Oregon Pike in Lancaster. A North Carolina banking company has agreed to buy Susquehanna Bancshares for $2.5 billion in cash and stock, it was announced Wednesday.

A North Carolina banking company has agreed to buy Susquehanna Bancshares for $2.5 billion in cash and stock, it was announced Wednesday.

BB&T’s purchase of Susquehanna will give BB&T a major presence in the mid-Atlantic region, including its first offices in Lancaster County.

Lititz-based Susquehanna, with $18.6 billion in assets, has 245 banking offices in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and West Virginia.

That includes 30 offices in Lancaster County, where Susquehanna has the most deposits of any bank.

Susquehanna also is a major employer, with more than 900 workers in the county.

What will the acquisition of Susquehanna mean for its customers?

When the deal is finalized next year, customers of Susquehanna will receive new credit cards, debit cards and account numbers from BB&T.

All Susquehanna branches will be retained, although they will be renamed BB&T.

All of the personnel that customers deal with — what bankers call “customer-facing” staff — will be retained too, company executives said.

BB&T will be reviewing the fees charged by Susquehanna, but promised no “significant” increase.

William J. Reuter, Susquehanna’s chairman and chief executive officer,  told LNP that the transaction will have a favorable impact overall.

“Our customers will be dealing with the same people, but who are backed by a much larger organization,” said Reuter.

“They’ll have access to more products and services — just a better overall platform to make our customers able to succeed,” he said.

However, BB&T also will eliminate $160 million worth of Susquehanna expenses annually, or 32 percent of its non-interest expense.

How those savings will be achieved was not immediately specified.

Company executives acknowledged layoffs will occur in the company’s “back-office” operations, but declined to estimate how many.

No branches will be closed due to the transaction, though, because the Susquehanna and BB&T branch networks do not overlap.

In addition, BB&T will create a foundation, funded with $10 million, to spark economic development and job creation in Lancaster County.

Details of how the foundation will operate remain to be determined, company executives said.

BB&T, based in Winston-Salem, is the nation’s 16th largest banking company, with $187.0 billion in assets and 1,842 financial centers in 12 states and Washington D.C.

Susquehanna is 73rd, according to the Federal Reserve System.

BB&T Chairman and CEO Kelly S. King said the addition of Susquehanna “expands our franchise into a contiguous, attractive region.”

King, in a prepared statement, said Susquehanna is a compatible partner because of its “culture, commitment to its communities and business model.”

A Wall Street analyst who follows BB&T praised Susquehanna’s decision to be acquired by the North Carolina firm.

“Susquehanna is partnering with one of the top performing banks in the United States,” said Terry McEvoy of Sterne Agee.

“During good times and bad times, BB&T runs a very steady, conservative bank,” he told LNP.

Susquehanna board members Jeffrey F.  Lehman, Henry R. Gibbel and Bruce A. Hepburn and former director Andrew S. Samuel could not be immediately reached for comment.

Susquehanna shareholders will receive 0.253 shares of BB&T common stock and $4.05 cash for each Susquehanna common share.

The consideration is valued at $13.50 per share, based on the average closing price of BB&T over the 45 trading days ending Monday.

Susquehanna stock closed Tuesday at $9.90 a share, meaning the consideration provides a 36 percent premium over the Tuesday price.

But Wednesday, on news of the acquisition, Susquehanna’s stock price   soared to close at $13.12 a share, up $3.22 or 32.5 percent.

The Susquehanna/BB&T transaction is subject to the approval of regulators and Susquehanna shareholders.

It’s expected to be completed in the second half of 2015.

Susquehanna board members Reuter and Christine Sears,  chief operating officer of Penn National Insurance, then will join BB&T’s board.

BB&T’s acquisition of Susquehanna is the fourth expansion of its banking network in the past six months.

In September, BB&T agreed to buy The Bank of Kentucky Financial Corp. , a $1.9 billion firm, for $363 million in cash and stock.

That same month, BB&T bought 41 bank branches in Texas from Citibank, which followed the purchase of 21   Citibank branches there in June.

The last time a leading national banking company became a major player here by purchasing a locally based bank was in 2008.

That’s when Pittsburgh-based PNC purchased Sterling Financial, owner of Bank of Lancaster County.

That transaction boosted PNC’s presence from four to 34 offices here, according to newspaper files.

BB&T dates to 1872, with the creation of a small bank named Branch and Hadley in North Carolina.

Susquehanna traces its roots to 1901 with the founding of the Farmers National Bank of Lititz.

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