BB&T Corp., the buyer of 16 small banks in the last four years, set its sights on a larger target Monday, announcing a $1.2 billion stock deal for One Valley Bancorp in Charleston, W.Va.
One Valley, which has $6.6 billion of assets and 123 branches in Virginia and West Virginia, is more than three times the size of BB&T's largest 1999 acquisition and the largest quarry BB&T has pursued since its 1995 merger of equals with Southern National Corp.
The deal, expected to close in the third quarter, would move BB&T from 1.6% of deposits in West Virginia to nearly 18%, the top deposit share in the state. The $45.5 billion-asset Winston-Salem, N.C., company entered West Virginia last year with its purchase of $676 million-asset Matewan Bancshares in Williamson.
But the West Virginia deal may be BB&T's last for some time. In a conference call with analysts, chairman and chief executive officer John A. Allison 4th swore off further deals until the One Valley integration is well under way.
"We have made a management decision not to pursue other acquisitions for at least six months, and perhaps nine months," he said. "We need to know for sure we have done the One Valley deal very well before we will go for another."
Despite this assurance, shares of BB&T fell $1.25 on Monday, to $26.25. Shares of One Valley closed at $32, up $4.9375.
Analysts attributed the decline in BB&T's share price to the market's anti-bank-merger sentiment. Mr. Allison's promise not to announce another deal anytime soon might have prevented a bigger drop, they said.
"I think their attitude toward future deals is very healthy," said Christopher Marinac, an analyst at Robinson-Humphrey Co. in Atlanta. "If they didn't say that, there would be legitimate concern that this company could become overwhelmed by integrations."
Mr. Allison called the deal for One Valley "a natural fit," saying that he "had been calling on them for eight or nine years" to urge a merger agreement. Analysts also praised the deal.
"One Valley is a very well run company with good credit quality," said Angelina Billon, senior equity analyst at Johnston Lemon & Co. in Washington. "It is big enough to have an impact on BB&T but small enough to minimize the execution risk."
"It has made sense for some time to get these two companies together," added David C. Stumpf, an analyst at A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc. in St. Louis. "It certainly isn't a surprise."
Mr. Marinac said the price, a relatively cheap 2.11 times One Valley's book value and 14.9 times earnings, is encouraging.
"I think that there is a lot of pressure on all banks from investors for prices to come down," he said. "It is a good sign that BB&T is listening to what investors are asking for."
BB&T said it would take a charge of $48 million to complete the deal and expects to cut $30.5 million, or 17.5%, of One Valley's expenses by 2001. The savings will include eliminating an unspecified number of back-office jobs, it said, but it hopes to mitigate these losses by creating 150 to 200 jobs in Charleston.
The two companies also have eight adjacent branches, and they expect to divest about $35 million of deposits in two Virginia towns to gain regulatory approval.
BB&T said it intends to carve out three community bank regions in West Virginia from One Valley's business, each with its own president. The North Carolina company has 19 autonomous regions in its seven-state operating area.
After the deal closes, J. Holmes Morrison, One Valley's chairman, president, and CEO, is to become chairman and chief executive of BB&T's West Virginia operations and join the parent company's board.