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GB&T employees will be offered jobs with SunTrust

Stockholders to vote on merger April 24

POSTED: April 22, 2008 5:00 a.m.
TOM REED/The Times

Heather Kirby, front, and Danielle Olive wait on drive-up customers at the Gainesville Bank & Trust main office. GB&T tellers and other employees who deal directly with the public will be offered jobs at SunTrust when the two banks merge.

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Officials with SunTrust and Gainesville Bank & Trust on Thursday revealed their branch configuration following the planned merger of the two financial institutions.

The companies also announced that all employees with
"client-facing" jobs, such as tellers, customer service representatives, loan officers and branch managers would be offered positions with SunTrust.

The company also announced that selected SunTrust and GB&T offices in Hall County would be closing by late summer when the merger is complete.

The main office of GB&T at 500 Jesse Jewell Parkway, as well as branches on Old Cornelia Highway, Dawsonville Highway, and a drive-up location at 1210 Thompson Bridge Road would be closing. Also to close is the SunTrust location at 3626 Mundy Mill Road in Oakwood.

SunTrust plans to keep the Southern Heritage Bank office at 3461 Atlanta Highway and the GB&T branches at 3725 Mundy Mill Road, 3460 Thompson Bridge Road and 4890 Golden Parkway in Buford.

The three-story GB&T headquarters at 500 Jesse Jewell Parkway will be the largest facility to close. The building that was jointly owned by GB&T and Gainesville businessman Don Carter housed offices for both Gainesville Bank & Trust and its parent company, GB&T Bancshares.

Lana Nix, market president for SunTrust in Gainesville, will continue her role after the merger. Richard Hunt, chief executive of GB&T Bancshares, said he has been asked to remain with the bank until at least the end of 2008 to assist in the transition.

Nix said the employees who are being retained may opt for positions at SunTrust locations closer to their homes. Other GB&T personnel who are not being retained will be offered a severance package when the merger is completed. These include employees of the bank holding company and those who are involved in noncustomer service administrative positions.

Gary Peacock Jr., president and CEO of SunTrust Bank in Atlanta, and Hunt issued a joint statement saying the overall merger integration planning is "on track, on target and on schedule."

SunTrust announced that four members of the GB&T Bancshares board of directors would be joining the advisory board for SunTrust in Gainesville. They are Lowell S. "Casey" Cagle, John W. Darden, Richard Hunt and Philip Wilheit.

GB&T stockholders are scheduled to vote on the merger at a stockholders meeting on April 24. The transaction will likely be completed by mid to late summer. The banks did not give a specific date for the branch closures.

The combination of a 10-month slide in the price of its stock in 2007 and a growing number of developers in default on loans in a slumping housing market was enough for directors of GB&T Bancshares to accept a stock buyout last November from the state’s largest bank.

The announcement of the acquisition of GB&T by SunTrust came on the same day the Gainesville bank holding company announced a third-quarter loss of $6.3 million for 2007.

The losses continued as GB&T Bancshares announced a $13 million loss in the fourth quarter and a loss of $12.48 million for 2007. The bank’s stock hit a record high of $22.28 on Jan. 3, 2007.

Since the merger announcement, the stock has closed as high as $11.38 and as low as $8.02

If approved as expected, GB&T shareholders will receive .1562 shares of SunTrust common stock for each share of GB&T common stock.

Based on Thursday’s Wall Street close of $54.61, that would equate to $8.53 per share.



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