U.S. Bancorp chief downplays interest in M&A

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Strike U.S. Bancorp off the list of banks buying into large-scale M&A.

While the $476 billion-asset company “will consider all options for growth,” CEO Andy Cecere said during a Wednesday conference call to discuss quarterly results that he is focused on upgrading technology and opening branches in new markets. His comments addressed a question about whether the pending merger of BB&T and SunTrust had sparked an interest in M&A.

“Our near-term focus will likely be on the key businesses, the merchant processing and trust businesses that we're focusing on," Cecere said. "We have a lot of momentum across our digital activities. ... Now that we're out of the consent order, we're making a lot of progress across all of our business lines, and I feel very comfortable where we are today.”

U.S. Bancorp was freed from a consent order in December tied to anti-money-laundering compliance.

The Minneapolis company's executives outlined a growth strategy on Wednesday that includes a heavy focus on digital banking, along with a plan to consolidate branches in some markets and open branches in others.

When BB&T and SunTrust announced their deal in February, they set off a fresh wave of speculation as to whether other banks might merge to keep pace. The merger would make BB&T the nation’s sixth-largest bank, trailing U.S. Bancorp by $34 billion in assets.

So far, many regional bank CEOs have demurred on M&A. Regions Financial CEO John Turner has expressed doubts that the Alabama company needs to make an acquisition to grow, even though it competes with BB&T and SunTrust in many Southeastern markets.

Other banks view the merger as a chance to hire bankers that leave BB&T or SunTrust or take market share from the combined bank.

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