Because it has no market overlap with Crestar Financial Corp., SunTrust Banks Inc. is conducting what one analyst called a "kinder, gentler merger."

Atlanta-based SunTrust plans to reduce its work force by only 250 this year because of its Dec. 31 purchase of the Richmond, Va., banking company.

Though 750 jobs would be eliminated, mostly those of Crestar workers, 500 would be created, SunTrust says. And most of the displaced workers will be retrained or relocated, the company says.

The result is that the employee roster will shrink by less than 1%, SunTrust said.

"We're making sure that the people who hold jobs to be eliminated know they have opportunities to take newly created jobs with us," said Tony Mattera, a spokesman.

The new SunTrust, with $93.2 billion of assets, hopes to slice $120 million in expenses, mostly this year. The merger should bring in $28 million of additional revenue, the company said.

SunTrust is taking a cautious approach to melding the banks, hoping to preserve the best attributes of each, observers said.

This week the company announced it would consolidate its mortgage operations and locate its main mortgage office in Richmond, where Crestar had been headquartered. As a result, roughly 340 jobs are to be eliminated in Atlanta, where SunTrust's mortgage operations are located, Mr. Mattera said.

However, as many as 220 positions are to be created in Richmond as a result of the move.

"The way this merger is being conducted, when you eliminate positions in one place you end up with positions to fill in other places," said R. Harold Schroeder, an analyst with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc.

Similarly, Crestar's mutual fund family is being folded into SunTrust's, but Crestar investment managers have been tapped to oversee several funds. Also, SunTrust plans to offer student loans through Crestar's program.

But the fact that most of the job eliminations are to occur in Richmond is a reminder that this is not a merger of equals, observers said.

"While the SunTrust folks have tried to be evenhanded, this is still clearly an acquisition," said David M. West, an analyst with Davenport & Co. in Richmond. "The main consolidation areas will occur in middle management here in Richmond."

There is a "strong possibility" that the bank could cut more jobs next year as SunTrust continues to look for new ways to cut costs, Mr. Mattera said.

"It's not firm yet, but it's definitely not out of the question," Mr. Mattera said. "The search for efficiencies doesn't end at the end of this year."

However, because no branches are being closed because of the merger, no cuts will occur among employees who have direct contact with customers, Mr. Mattera added.

"Our overriding goal is to minimize customer disruption," he said.

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