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Regions Bank branches unveiled their new signs Thursday, including one at Decatur's Lee Street Southeast branch. Regions and AmSouth branches closed early to complete the conversion of computer systems after their November merger.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
Regions Bank branches unveiled their new signs Thursday, including one at Decatur's Lee Street Southeast branch. Regions and AmSouth branches closed early to complete the conversion of computer systems after their November merger.

2 banks become 1
AmSouth signs come down;
Regions merger complete

By Eric Fleischauer
eric@decaturdaily.com 340-2435

AmSouth is no more, and Regions is busy making sure it keeps the customers.

More than 60 Regions Bank and former AmSouth Bancorp branches in Alabama and Florida closed early Thursday afternoon to convert computer systems for the $10 billion merger that left Regions Bank as the biggest in Alabama, and in the top 10 of bank holding companies nationwide.

The merger was finalized in November.

Tom McCrary, president of the Morgan and Lawrence County market, said the merger resulted in no lost jobs locally.

Regions closed the downtown AmSouth main office, which it hopes to sell. It refurbished the Regions main branch, located at 401 Lee St. S.E., and absorbed the displaced employees.

No significant loss of accounts

McCrary said the local Regions branches had not experienced significant loss of accounts since the merger finalized, but the test may be Friday when AmSouth customers see a different name on their bank.

"It should be seamless for our customers," McCrary said.

The bank has done two "dress rehearsals," conducted 180,000 hours of employee training and invested 470,000 hours of technology work into the conversion, officials said.

The new Regions sports a new logo on its signs.

The logo has a pyramid as its centerpiece. The pyramid points upward and is divided into four radiants that create five sections. The five sections represent each of the bank's five basic values, McCrary said: put people first, do what is right, reach higher, focus on the customer and enjoy life.

"We're very excited about putting these two fine financial institutions together," McCrary said. "We have a team of dedicated bankers here that are chomping at the bit to provide a full range of financial services for our customers."

Benefiting customers

The merger benefits customers by adding branches and ATMs throughout the Regions-AmSouth footprint, McCrary said. Because of the combined size of the bank, it also gives customers access to services not available in smaller banks.

McCrary has been with Regions for 21 years, and has presided over the Morgan and Lawrence markets since January. He grew up in Decatur, attending Austin High School.

Several AmSouth and Regions executives jumped ship after the merger.

"We were saddened by their departure, but it actually opened up some positions for some talent that we had internally," said Georgia Hendricks, area marketing manager for Regions' North Alabama operations. "We kind of picked our purse up and started again, but it actually worked out well."

AmSouth opened in 1872 as the First National Bank of Birmingham. It became known as AmSouth in 1981.

McCrary said the slogan for the new Regions is "It's time to expect more." He said surveys indicated people are looking for a less complicated life, and the new Regions plans to do its part.

Since the merger, Regions is Alabama's biggest bank, with 30 percent market share. In its 15-state territory it has $142 billion in assets and 5 million customers.

Hendricks said the size of the combined banks is a benefit for customers, but creates risks.

"Our challenge is to take this huge company and still have one-on-one contact with our customers, to try to be that hometown bank that we have always been," Hendricks said.

"That's why we've tried so hard to keep all the associates in place, so that when the AmSouth customer comes into the Regions bank, they see a familiar person there."

McCrary said the combination would benefit Morgan and Lawrence counties.

"Our roots are very deep here in this community," McCrary said. "We want to focus on helping this community continue to progress in economic development. That's a commitment we have."

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