Branch Bank & Trust, known by its acronym BB&T, is moving into Northeastern Pennsylvania with the acquisition of Lititz-based Susquehanna Bancshares and a planned takeover of National Penn Bancshares, which combined have 10 branches in Luzerne County.
The $2.5 billion deal with Susquehanna closed in August, and three branches in Hazleton and Conyngham will be rebranded with the BB&T name over the weekend of Nov. 6-8.
“We generally close the branches around 2 p.m. on Friday,” said BB&T spokesman David White. “They open Monday morning right on time as BB&T. This is our systems changeover, in addition to changing the signage.”
Customers should notice little difference, and the same personnel will be retained. “All of the customer-facing associates will have jobs,” said Mike Hough, regional president for the area that includes Northeastern Pennsylvania.
One branch is larger than the others, but on average there are around five employees per branch, White said.
While some account numbers will eventually change, customers can continue to use the checks and deposit slips they now have for up to a year, Hough said.
Debit cards will be replaced by ones with BB&T name. Mailings have been sent to customers and if they need more information they can visit a branch or call a toll-free help line.
BB&T, ranked 12th-largest among U.S. Banks with just over $200 billion in assets, will offer more sophisticated services, Hough said. Its “U by BB&T” online and mobile platform allows customers to access all of their financial accounts in one place, even those with other institutions. “That’s pretty cool,” he said.
This is the Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based BB&T’s first foray into Pennsylvania, but another could be coming up fast. The bank, founded in 1872, announced on Aug. 17 that it would acquire Allentown-based National Penn Bancshares and its 124 branches in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland for $1.8 billion.
The deal is expected to close sometime next year.
“We picked up seven additional branches” in Luzerne County, Hough said. “Three are pretty close to our existing branches.”
That could mean some consolidation ahead, but also the possibility of opening more branches in the region. “Probably a little bit of both,” he said.
BB&T president Ricky Brown has said about 25 branches may be closed throughout the system, with closure decisions based on location and performance. There also are likely to be job losses at National Penn’s Allentown offices.
BB&T has been an aggressive buyer of smaller banks over the past 15 years, expanding its reach into 15 states and Washington, D.C.
White said the Pennsylvania acquisitions are a good fit with BB&T’s approach to banking.
“The cultures were very similar; that’s real important to BB&T,” he said. “Clients come first, and how we treat our associates.”
In June, BB&T received the highest score in a retail banking satisfaction survey conducted by personal finance website Credio.com. The ranking was based on customer service, account offerings, fees, website/mobile app quality and other factors. PNC Bank ranked second and TD Bank was third.