Synovus Financial Corp. chief executive officer Richard Anthony, whose Georgia bank ranks last by share price among the 25 biggest U.S. lenders, said he's ready to be a buyer, not a seller.

"There is a place for Synovus and a space out there where we can potentially stand out," Anthony, 63, said in an interview. Synovus can compete against larger rivals and will benefit as smaller banks fail in its main Georgia and Florida markets, he said.

Synovus, whose Columbus headquarters is 110 miles southwest of Atlanta, has posted losses of $2.1 billion since September 2008, has not repaid a $968 million bailout from the Troubled Asset Relief Program and is the focus of a Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry. Its shares are worth the current price of about $3.50 because of takeover speculation and will not rise further unless Anthony finds a buyer, analyst Kevin Reynolds of Wunderlich Securities Inc. said in a March 26 report.

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