Slideshow 10 Who Had a Good Year in Banking

  • December 26 2012, 2:30pm EST

Banking was a tough business to thrive in over the past year. These ten executives stood out for savvy moves that enabled their companies to beat the odds.

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Stephen Steinour, Chairman/CEO, Huntington Bancshares

American Banker recently named Steinour its Banker of the Year, so it's a given that he'd lead our list of executives who stood out in 2012. Following are other bankers who stood out during the previous year.

(Image: Michael Chu)

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Kevin Kabat, CEO, Fifth Third Bancorp

Under Kabat, the Cincinnati bank has been among the most successful regionals in growing commercial and industrial loans over the last two years. Its recent expansion in the energy and health care sectors should help it sustain the momentum. Fifth Third's board recently gave Kabat the additional title of vice chairman, citing his "outstanding leadership and performance during the most challenging time in our industry's history."

Grayson Hall, CEO, Regions Financial

Hall inherited a mess when he took over as CEO nearly three years ago, but his quiet efforts began to pay off in 2012. The Birmingham, Ala., company raised $2 billion from a stock offering and the sale of its Morgan Keegan securities unit to help repay the $3.5 billion owed under the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Profits quadrupled to $730 million in the year through Sept. 30, and Regions' stock is up 65% year to date. That has left the company looking a lot more like a survivor than a casualty during the coming industry shakeout. One black mark: Reports this summer of a grand jury investigation into Regions' ties to an executive recruiting firm that entertained bank executives and borrowed from the company.

Karen Peetz, President, Bank of New York Mellon

Peetz has made it plain she'd like to be CEO someday and moved a step closer to the corner office — maybe at BNY Mellon, maybe somewhere else — when she was named president of the nation's largest custody bank in mid-December. In another high-profile role, Peetz chairs the board of trustees at Pennsylvania State University. And oh, almost forgot: she was also named one of American Banker's 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking back in October.

(Image: Bloomberg News)

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Robert Clements, Chairman, CEO, EverBank

EverBank's lackluster public offering tarnished a hot growth story, but Clements & Co. bounced back with a $2.5 billion deal for General Electric's business property lending unit. Other big moves included the purchase of MetLife's warehouse division and creation up of specialty services, such as a golf-equipment financing unit. Clements even gets to attend the Super Bowl in his hometown of New Orleans.

Jack Dorsey, CEO, Square

American Banker named Dorsey its innovator of the year in 2012 (so, too, did the Wall Street Journal). Square's technology has enabled countless small merchants to accept credit cards via its handheld dongles. Dorsey's shop also recently announced a partnership with Starbucks that will give it a foothold in one of the few chains where customers routinely pay with mobile phones. Investment bankers have estimated the value of privately held Square at about $3.3 billion.

(Image: Bloomberg News)

Diane Offereins, President, Payment Services, Discover Financial Services

Discover substantially expanded its global reach this year as Offereins struck credit and debit alliances with payment networks in Asia and the Caribbean. In another deal, a Russian bank will begin issuing Discover cards as well. The partnerships are creating new revenue streams for Discover and are a key reason why its profits, and stock price, soared in 2012.

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Jay Sidhu, Chairman/CEO, Customers Bancorp

Sidhu, the former CEO of Sovereign Bancorp, cemented his banking comeback in 2012. While Customers tabled plans for a public offering earlier in the year, the Pennsylvania company raised $100 million through private placements and made two strategic bank acquisitions.

(Image: Debbie Fogel)

David Zalman, Chairman/CEO, Prosperity Bancshares

Prosperity was an aggressive acquirer in 2012, striking six deals in a little over a year. This month's purchase of Coppermark Bancshares provides the Houston, Tex. Company an entry into Oklahoma. Zalman is as active as ever, despite the fact that his top lieutenant just left to take over as CEO of BancorpSouth in Mississippi.

(Image: Michael Chu)

Robert Hill Jr., CEO, SCBT Financial

People outside the Southeast have largely overlooked SCBT, but under Hill's leadership the Columbia, S.C., company has been scooping up banks in key markets. In August, SCBT announced plans to enter Savannah, Ga., by purchasing a struggling bank in the coastal city and seems poised for more deals; it filed a shelf registration earlier this year to raise more capital.