Magazine article American Banker

Headquarters Site Is a Feather-Ruffling Issue

Magazine article American Banker

Headquarters Site Is a Feather-Ruffling Issue

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- Locating the headquarters of an interstate banking combination is a touchy political issue. States and governors can be jealously protective of their largest financial institutions.

For example, when Trust Company of Georgia and Sun Banks Inc. of Orlando, Fla., announced plans to merge last summer, Florida Gov. Bob Graham called his state's top bankers to express displeasure that the headquarters of the new company would be in Atlanta.

Wachovia Corp. and First Atlanta Corp. plan to straddle the fence on the issue when they merge into First Wachovia Corp., which will have assets of about $15.5 billion, based on March 31 figures.

Though incorporated in North Carolina, First Wachovia will have "dual legal headquarters" in Atlanta and Winston-Salem, N.C., Wachovia's home city.

John G. Medlin Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Wachovia, will be president and chief executive of First Wachovia, while Thomas R. Williams, chairman and chief executive of First Atlanta, will be chairman.

Mr. Medlin, who grew up on a North Carolina farm and has spent his whole career at Wachovia, will stay to run his bank. Mr. Williams, a Georgia native, will continue to run First Atlanta. The banks won't change their names.

"I can look both governors in the eye and say this combination will not do anything to take away employment from either state," Mr. Medlin said.

But neither Mr. Medlin nor Mr. Williams would categorically rule out the possibility that a permanent headquarters would eventually be established in one of the two cities.

"Any gravitation [of the headquarters to one city] will be based on what's most advantageous in a business sense," Mr. Medlin continued. "Atlanta is the business center of the Southeast. It will be a very important place for First Wachovia. But North Carolina won't lose out either. …

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