First Horizon National (FHN) in Memphis is asking some employees if they would like to leave voluntarily.

The $25.5 billion-asset parent of First Tennessee Bank is offering roughly 400 people, about 9% of its workforce, in the bank's human resources, finance, credit management and communications divisions up to a year's pay and benefits in return for their agreeing to give up their jobs, the company said Friday.

The program comes amid a push by First Tennessee to trim overhead.  The company lost close to $125 million in the second quarter of 2012 after buying back scores of soured mortgages originated mostly by a national mortgage-lending unit it sold off in 2008.

"First Tennessee has been shrinking as we've moved away from being a national business over the last four years by selling our national mortgage company and focusing on our bank in Tennessee," John Daniel, the company's executive vice president for human resources, told American Banker. "We're on a two-year cycle of trying to force down expenses. "

News of the buyouts was first reported by the Memphis Business Journal.

Employees have until Oct. 31 to accept the offer, which is unavailable to people who work in the bank's branches, customer service or brokerage business.

Daniel says he expects about 10% of those who are eligible for a buyout to take it. "Knowing we have some expense reduction to achieve, we thought we'd try to go voluntary first," he added.  "That's the goal, to have a minimal number of layoffs."

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.