SunTrust Bank History

Humble Beginnings

SunTrust has more than 125 years of history in serving clients and contributing to communities. Since its humble beginnings, the company has been committed to advancing financial wellness and helping its clients and communities grow and thrive. The following is a brief summary of highlights and milestones that have marked our history.

The Georgia General Assembly granted a charter for the Commercial Travelers' Savings Bank in Atlanta on September 21, 1891. Atlanta's population of 65,000 was already served by 21 small banks, but there were no bankers among the founders. Junius G. Oglesby, the bank's first president, was a grocer. The first statement in 1892 reported assets of $36,048.17.

The bank moved to the new eight-story Equitable Building in downtown Atlanta, the South's first "skyscraper" in 1893. Joel Hurt, an early president, also led the move to change the name to "Trust Company of Georgia," which he felt was more descriptive of the institution he envisioned. In the early days, Trust Company of Georgia (TCG) concentrated on trust and investment banking services.

In 1919, a group headed by Ernest Woodruff, then president of Trust Company of Georgia, purchased The Coca-Cola Company from the Candler interests for $25 million, the largest business transaction in the Southeast up to that time. For its underwriting services in taking the company public, Trust Company received shares of Coca-Cola stock which, were valued at $110,000.

During the 20's, there was a short-lived combination with The First National Bank of Atlanta; however, this was not a true merger since the books were kept separate.

The Start of Our Modern History

The 30's are the start of TCG's modern history. In 1933, ties with First National ended and TCG emerged as a full-service commercial bank. In the break up, TCG got majority ownership of five Georgia banks in Augusta, Columbus, Macon, Rome and Savannah. It also kept the Coca-Cola stock.

TCG becomes the first Southern bank with a factoring department in 1939, and in 1949, the company’s first branch office was opened at West Peachtree and Third Streets in Atlanta. In 1952, TCG became the first inland bank in the Southeast to form an International Department.

Throughout the 60's, the company continued to grow and in 1970, total assets passed the $1 billion mark.

In 1971, the communicative name, ‘Trust Company Bank" was adopted for Atlanta banking activities and the big blue ‘T"-mark was introduced.

State law also changed to permit countywide branching. TCG Bank of DeKalb and TCG Bank of Sandy Springs (of which TCG owned the maximum 5% allowed by old law) were wholly acquired and merged as branches.

The $330 million mortgage servicing portfolio of Fickling & Walker of Macon, Ga. was acquired in 1979, doubling the volume of Adair Mortgage Company, which had been acquired earlier in the 1970s. The name "Trust Company Mortgage" was adopted in 1980.

Interstate Banking

In 1984, Georgia and Florida enacted reciprocal interstate banking laws to be effective July 1, 1985. On July 2, 1984, plans were announced to combine TCG and Orlando, Fla.-based Sun Banks, Inc., to create SunTrust Banks, Inc.

In June 1985, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an 8-0 ruling affirming the constitutionality of reciprocal interstate banking laws, which had been challenged in court by Citicorp. On July 1, SunTrust Banks, Inc. became operational with assets of $16.3 billion. This was then the largest merger in Southeastern banking history and the first under the new interstate laws.

SunTrust continued to grow. Third National Corporation, the second largest bank holding company in Tennessee, was acquired on December 29, 1986. SunTrust Securities also became operational during the year.

In 1988, SunTrust was added to the S&P 500 Stock Price Index.

While the banking units had operated under their respective historical names, in 1995, they all adopted the SunTrust name and a new identification program was introduced. SunTrust Banks of Georgia also made an agreement with Publix Super Markets to operate in-store banking facilities throughout the state.

SunTrust acquired Nashville, TN-based Equitable Securities Company in 1997, enabling the underwriting of debt and equity offerings for clients. Other retail and corporate services were added to meet growing needs of customers.

SunTrust acquired Crestar Financial Corp. based in Richmond, VA in 1998.  With year-end assets of $93 billion, SunTrust was serving more than 3.3 million customers through 1,094 locations in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Expansion continued into the new century. SunTrust acquired the Florida banking franchise of Columbus, Ohio-based Huntington Bancshares in 2001. The acquisition provides a net addition of 59 new branches and $4.4 billion in deposits.

Building Scale and Capabilities for the Future

The addition of the institutional business of the Robinson-Humphrey Company, LCC in 2001 created SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, which became a full-service corporate and investment banking firm.

In 2003, the company expanded its presence into Hilton Head Island, SC, with the acquisition of Lighthouse Financial Services, Inc.

In 2004, SunTrust is one of the first two financial institutions to clear transactions electronically using check images via Viewpointe Archive Services, a check image repository.

SunTrust and Memphis-based National Commerce Financial Corporation announce plans to merge on May 9, 2004, creating a financial services franchise with more than 1,700 full service offices in 11 states and the District of Columbia.

In 2012, the company books a $1.9 billion gain as it sells 59 million of the remaining 60 million shares it owns in The Coca-Cola Company, while transferring one million shares to the SunTrust Foundation.

Building on its strong capabilities and value proposition, SunTrust opens corporate banking offices in Dallas, San Francisco and Chicago in 2013.

LightStream, the national online consumer lending division of SunTrust Bank, also begins offering the AnythingLoan, a fast and flexible consumer loan, through its online portal.

SunTrust Robinson Humphrey expands its energy industry expertise with the acquisition of Houston, Texas-based Lantana Oil and Gas Partners, a leading acquisition and divestiture firm in the energy sector, in 2014.

The company continues its strong track-record of supporting its communities through philanthropy.  In 2015, The SunTrust Foundation provided $14.1 million to more than 1,500 organizations, and SunTrust teammates and retirees pledged more than $6.3 million to the United Way.

In 2016, the company announced the acquisition of the assets of Pillar and Cohen Financial, LLC., a leading Agency multi-family lender.

On February 7, 2019, SunTrust and BB&T announced plans to combine in a merger of equals creating the sixth-largest U.S. bank holding company with 275 years of combined history and a culture serving clients and communities in high-growth markets. The enhanced scale and financial strength of the new company, Truist, will accelerate investment in transformative technology to embrace disruption and create a more distinctive client experience.

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