Union Bankshares in Richmond, Va., said Wednesday that John Asbury, formerly of First National Bank of Santa Fe in New Mexico, will be its next CEO.

The $8.1 billion-asset company said Asbury will succeed William Beale as chief executive on Jan. 1. Asbury, 51, will become the president of the company and president and CEO of its Union Bank & Trust subsidiary on Oct. 1 of this year.

Asbury was president and CEO of First National Bank of Santa Fe from February 2015 until he resigned on Aug. 19 – to pursue another career opportunity, a First National spokeswoman said last week. The bank's holding company, Strategic Growth Bancorp in El Paso, Texas, announced in July that it had agreed to merge with the $1.8 billion-asset Sunflower Financial in Salina, Kan.

Asbury has also worked for Regions Financial in Birmingham, Ala., from 2010 to 2014, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Beale, 66, has been president and CEO of Union Bankshares and its predecessor companies since 1991. He will be executive vice chairman of the company and the bank until March 31. He will remain on the company's board and will stand for re-election in 2017.

Union is hoping to get over the $10 billion mark in assets. It said in June that unless it made an acquisition it likely would not reach $10 billion until 2019. It doubled its assets by acquiring the $3.1 billion-asset StellarOne in Charlottesville, Va., about three years ago.

Bankers and industry experts once held fast to a belief that institutions had to leap over the $10 billion threshold to generate enough scale to offset the toll of regulation, including caps on interchange fees and mandatory stress testing, waiting on the other side. Several banks even elected to be sold before crossing the mark.

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