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Banks spend months planning for merger-related transitions

BB&T Corp. transformed about 250 former Susquehanna Bank branches — about 50 of them in the midstate, including this one in Lititz — into BB&T bank branches in November without many people even knowing it. - (Photo / Amy Spangler)

If you blinked on the first weekend in November, you may have missed it.

Across the Mid-Atlantic, a team of staff members and third-party vendors from BB&T Corp. transformed about 250 former Susquehanna Bank branches — about 50 of them in the midstate — into BB&T bank branches without many people even knowing it.

By the time the bank opened for business Nov. 9, all traces of Susquehanna Bank were gone. Its former branches, corporate offices, billboards and signs all sported the BB&T name and logo.

Don’t feel bad if you didn’t notice. That was the plan all along.

“This was 10 or 11 months of the planning process being put into action,” said Craig Kauffman, BB&T’s regional president for Central Pennsylvania. “We started executing the plan 10 months before. Nov. 6 is when the convergence happened and when it becomes visible to the public, but it had been going on for a long time.”

BB&T is no stranger to mergers, having pulled off eight acquisitions since 2006. The Susquehanna acquisition closed Aug. 1.

A ninth, the company’s proposed acquisition of Allentown-based National Penn Bancshares Inc., is expected to wrap up in the spring.

So the company has become adept at what it takes to make someone else’s branch look like it has been a BB&T branch forever.

Kauffman — a Susquehanna Bank holdover — said BB&T leverages third-party vendors “at a high level,” and many of them have worked with BB&T previously. Those freelance vendors include one that is in charge of changing all of the signs at a branch, he said. The vendor subcontracts work to other vendors to make sure the signs are changed the same day.

The vendors also include a technology team charged with upgrading software in all the company’s ATMs and posting new signs on them as well.

“It all needs to be turned over,” Kauffman said.

Michael Sadowski

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