TARP exit opens doors for Ga. bank

The CEO of Synovus Financial, which this summer owed more than any other banking company as part of a government bailout, said paying back the loan in July removed a stigma and changed the perception of the Columbus institution for reluctant borrowers.

Repaying $968 million as part of the 2008 troubled asset relief program “put the offensive spring in the step in our bankers,” Synovus chairman and CEO Kessel Stelling said, and “certainly was a shot in the arm to our customer base.”

“I think it does open doors,” he said in a conference call with investors Tuesday. “I think it’s certainly been a positive.”

Synovus’ non-performing loans continued to decline, and were down 58.7 percent in the third quarter. Net income available to common shareholders more than doubled in the quarter, to $37.2 million for the third quarter of 2013 from $16 million in the same quarter a year earlier.

The company has cut staff and closed branches since 2007. A sale of its Memphis branches to Iberiabank is expected to close by the end of the year. Stelling said there are no plans to exit any other markets.

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