Magazine article American Banker

Union Planters CEO Rawlins Dead at 62

Magazine article American Banker

Union Planters CEO Rawlins Dead at 62

Article excerpt

Union Planters Corp. was a troubled, $2 billion-asset community bank company when Benjamin W. Rawlins took over as chief executive officer in 1984. Under Mr. Rawlins, who died Tuesday night at age 62, it became a highly profitable super-regional that now has $34.2 billion of assets and 866 branches in 12 states.

"Growing the franchise is a real culture there, and he was definitely the spearhead of that," said Christopher Kelley, an analyst who covers Union Planters for Morgan Keegan & Co. in Memphis, where the bank is based. "When you look at this company, it has grown a lot through acquisitions, and Mr. Rawlins was very involved in that process."

Mr. Rawlins, who died at his home after having a heart attack, became CEO two years after quitting Union Planters in a dispute over strategy. The board of directors summoned him back -- he had been CEO at a bank in Baton Rouge, La. -- to turn around a company that went on to lose $18.7 million in 1984.

It was the last year that Union Planters lost money. The company earned a record $410 million in 1999, and with earnings of $204.2 million through June 30 is on pace to shatter that mark this year.

Al Kennebec, Union Planters' senior executive vice president for retail banking, said Mr. Rawlins "was in a class by himself" as a bank executive.

"His interest was in technology and the customer, and what technology could do for the customer in the long term," Mr. Kennebec said. …

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