Regions, AmSouth merger final

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Tri-Parish Times

Regions Financial Corp. announced Monday that the merger with AmSouth Bancorporation is finally complete.

News of the merger first came late last May and has taken just under five months to complete.

“This is a very exciting chapter in the history of this company,” said Regions South Louisiana Area Executive Director Danny Montelaro in a recent release. “This merger means we can provide a wider range of products and services and provide more conveniences for the people of South Louisiana.”

In addition to the merger, Regions has made a commitment to invest at least $100 billion over the next seven years to support community development, according to a company spokesperson.

This includes small business lending as well as mortgage lending.

This promise extends throughout the corporations 16-state footprint. Pat Martin, director of Public Relations said, “In Louisiana, particularly in the Katrina hit areas, we will be very cognitive to what their needs are there.”

Currently, Regions has 67 branches located throughout South Louisiana. Through this merger the company will gain 30 branches that were previously operated by AmSouth.

“This really strengthens us as a whole,” Martin said. “We will become the third leading bank in Louisiana in terms of market share.”

Martin said that the broadened corporation will benefit customers in a number of ways including, giving them more “consumer and commercial banking options, trust and asset management, securities brokerage, mortgage and insurance products and services.”

According to the spokesperson, the merger also gives Regions a more successful branching strategy.

Now that the Regions network has extended, Martin hopes this will spur “organic growth” for the corporation, allowing them to build new branches as opposed to buying out existing ones.

The company’s goal is to make the transition from AmSouth to Regions as seamless as possible. Martin said that customers will be notified in advance if there are any changes in their banking relationships.

Now, Regions and AmSouth customers have free access to over 2,800 ATMs for cash access and balance inquiries. However, Martin said that customers should still use their current Regions or AmSouth to complete any other transactions.

“The banks are not integrated yet,” Martin explained. “Right now we are a bank holding company with two separate banks.”

AmSouth banks throughout the country will slowly begin to be converted to Regions banks. The conversion in South Louisiana should be complete by the end of 2007, according to the spokesperson.

“There will be some consolidations and closings because of this,” Martin said.

Closings will only occur in areas that have a lot of the overlap of the two banks and will not take place right now, but at the time of conversion.

“We still need the employees to serve the people,” she added, “So it’s not really going to affect the people as much as it will the bricks and mortars.”

The combined banks have operations in Houma, Thibodaux and Morgan City.