Participants in bank M&A often talk about the importance of blending cultures, but BB&T in Winston-Salem, N.C., went the extra mile in preparing for its acquisition of National Penn Bancshares.

While in talks to buy the Allentown, Pa., company, the $210 billion-asset BB&T sent an email to executives with the background on prominent cultural and religious groups in Pennsylvania. The email provided details on, and described differences among, the Pennsylvania Dutch, Amish and Mennonite communities.

The email also explained why National Penn has a tulip in its corporate logo; the flower is a sign of progress in Pennsylvania's German culture.

Moreover, it provided a refresher on Pennsylvania's Moravian population. BB&T's hometown of Winston-Salem also has a sizable Moravian community.

A BB&T spokeswoman confirmed the authenticity of the email obtained by American Banker.

"As part of our due diligence for mergers, we try to look beyond just the financials," said Cynthia Williams, BB&T's chief corporate communications officer. "We also look at the unique qualities of those communities to help us better understand their diversity and what brings them together. It's an important part of our relationship-based approach to banking."

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