BB&T Corp. and SunTrust Banks Inc. said Wednesday that the 46-story Charlotte skyscraper Hearst Tower will be the corporate headquarters site for their proposed combined bank.
The unveiling comes a little more than four months after BB&T and SunTrust announced their $66 billion megadeal Feb. 7. BB&T shareholders would have a 57% stake in the combined bank.
While the combined bank’s headquarters would be placed in Charlotte, Winston-Salem gets the community banking division and Atlanta the wholesale banking division.
The banks said they would take 550,000 square feet in the 970,000-square-foot building at 214 N. Tryon St., which debuted in 2002. The goal is to have about 2,000 employees there.
“This is a signature tower in the Uptown area of Charlotte and the perfect spot for the new company’s headquarters,” Kelly King, BB&T’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.
“This prime location will put our new company in the heart of the vibrant financial district and is the right backdrop for the bold, transformational financial institution we’re creating with this merger of equals.”
The space was constructed initially for Bank of America Corp., also based in Charlotte, to serve its bank’s investment banking and capital markets units.
“It has perhaps the largest, and most beautiful, trading floor of any institutional finance giant in the U.S. with floor-to-ceiling windows filling the floor with a sea of natural light,” said Tony Plath, retired finance professor at UNC Charlotte.
“It’s sufficiently new, luxurious, and imposing to serve as a big-bank headquarters, and it’s got the right address for one of the top five commercial banks in America.
Plath said there is the potential for the combined bank to exercise a $455 million option with Cousins Properties to buy the tower outright by the end of the year. BB&T spokesman David White said the banks are not discussing lease negotiations.
The deal requires shareholder and regulatory approvals. Shareholders are projected to hold simultaneous votes on the deal in September.
The banks are projecting a late third-quarter or fourth-quarter closing. Analysts say pushback from some Democratic congressional leaders, such as presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, could delay approval into early 2020.
King plans to move to Charlotte, along with the members of BB&T’s executive-management team who will help form the combined bank’s entity.
William Rogers Jr., SunTrust’s chairman and chief executive, said the banks believe the Hearst Tower “would attract and inspire our teams as they come together to create industry-leading client experiences. ... This new headquarters environment will help foster collaboration and innovation.”
The new headquarters also will accommodate leadership teams for groups that include corporate communications, finance, human resources, insurance, legal, technology and risk management.
White said the banks are negotiating on which floors it will take. “We expect to have some teams ready to move in by our legal closing later in the year, but we don’t have a specific date yet,” White said.
The tower contains floors in the 20,000- to 24,000-square-foot range and 1,400 parking spaces. The retail element in the building includes Fuel Pizza, Sea Level, Luce Ristorante, Pita Pit, RiRa Sandwich shop, Showmars, SoHo Bistro and Malabar.
Charlotte also will be home to the proposed company’s Innovation and Technology Center.
In May 2018, BB&T spent nearly $53 million to buy two Class A corporate-office buildings in Mecklenburg County.
The bank spent $29.04 million to buy LakePointe Corporate Center One and $23.76 million to buy LakePointe Corporate Center Two.
The bank’s main office in the Charlotte market is currently at the BB&T Center at 200 S. College St. in the uptown area, where it also has offices for several business units. BB&T has seven years left on a 10-year lease for 120,000 square feet.
The combined BB&T-SunTrust, at $442 billion in total assets, would be on the heels of US Bancorp’s $476 billion as the largest super-regional bank in the country, as well as the fifth largest bank overall.
Following a potential closing, the banks are projecting an integration period lasting between nine and 18 months.
The corporate headquarters move to Charlotte will be accompanied by leasing an aircraft hangar at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
The Charlotte City Council approved in May a 20-year lease on the hangar for the bank with the option for two five-year extensions.
BB&T has agreed to reimburse the city’s Aviation Department for costs for site preparation. It will pay hangar, ground and other airport rental fees.
The project includes a taxiway to the hangar and requires an extension of an existing airport road.
The council is expected to be provided with a construction contract in the third quarter.
“A site is currently under development, and we expect construction of a new hangar to begin later this year,” White said in May.