SunTrust Completes Charter Consolidation

ATLANTA - SunTrust Banks Inc. said Monday it has completed its charter consolidation and now operates a single, Georgia-chartered institution.The $93 billion-asset company announced in September that it planned to combine its 27 charters in six states and the District of Columbia in order to gain operating efficiencies. With one charter, the company said, it will save on regulatory fees and will be better able to manage assets and capital.

Despite the charter change, SunTrust will continue to operate as Crestar Bank in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia until midyear. The Georgia company bought Crestar Financial Corp. of Richmond in December 1998.

- Louis Whiteman

HSBC Closes Deal For Republic of N.Y.

NEW YORK - Branches of Republic New York Corp. reopened Monday as part of HSBC Holdings after completion of the banking companies' $9.9 billion merger.The deal, closed Friday, turns HSBC into the third-largest retail banking company in New York, with more than $60 billion of assets and 455 branches.

It also doubles HSBC's private banking business, to about 55,000 customers with more than $120 billion of client funds under management through the simultaneous acquisition of Luxembourg-based Safra Republic Holdings SA. It also converts HSBC into a major player in the global banknote and bullion market.

Completion of the transaction came after a last-minute gesture by Edmond Safra, the late founder and honorary chairman of Republic, to cut $450 million from his own payment to cover any potential loss that might be incurred on behalf of Princeton Economics International, an investment advisory company and Republic customer allegedly involved in a $1 billion fraud.

Mr. Safra died last month in a fire at his apartment in Monaco. A nurse has been charged with arson in the case.

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