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BB&T promotes Ricky Brown to president’s job

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — BB&T Corp. has named Ricky Brown as president of its largest subsidiary, Branch Banking and Trust Co. Inc., effectively Wednesday, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

Brown, 58, replaces Rob Greene, who recently retired after serving in the role for nearly 20 years following the bank’s merger-of-equals with Southern National Corp. in 1995.

Brown was named to BB&T’s executive team in 2004. Since that time, he has served as president of the community banking division for the parent company. He will retain those duties.

Brown has served as city executive in New Bern and Winston-Salem, regional president of the bank’s Charlotte metro region and group president of the Washington metro region.

“I am pleased the board is recognizing Ricky’s superior leadership and 37 years of outstanding performance with this well-deserved promotion,” Kelly King, the bank’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.

Brown is listed among the bank’s top-five listed executives. In fiscal 2013, Brown received $661,250 in salary and $1.71 million in nonequity incentive compensation.

Analysts say Brown’s promotion likely raises his profile as a potential successor to King as chief executive. King, who turns 66 in September, took over as chief executive in January 2009 at age 60 following the retirement of John Allison.

Another potential successor candidate is Christopher Henson, who became chief operating officer – replacing King in that role – in January 2009.

“With most of the executive leadership team having at least 25 years tenure with the company and a proven succession plan in place, BB&T is well positioned for the next leadership transition,” spokesman Brian Davis said.

King confirmed in a January 2014 profile in the Journal that the bank does not have a set retirement date or age for him.

“The issues about my retirement have come and gone, the last being when my contract was amended so I could work past 65,” King said. “There was no consideration from the board of me retiring at 65.”

That said, King said BB&T is focused on management succession at all levels, in part because the two chief executives who preceded Allison both died in their early to mid-50s although apparently in good health at the time.

The board has charged King with making recommendations and evaluations of potential successors, along with a review of any development plans of such individuals.

“We have multiple candidates who are capable of succeeding me,” King said. “The odds are extremely high that when I make the decision to retire, we will have a very smooth transition to an internal candidate.

“Having that message to give to the investment community is huge because it’s a clear message that BB&T is concerned about the long term with the culture and process to make it happen.”

Tony Plath, a finance professor at UNC Charlotte, said he would not be surprised if Brown take King’s place.

“The president’s job gives him a little more visibility, a bit more opportunity to communicate externally with analysts and other outside groups that are important to the bank, and a year or so in a senior-level position to get ready to fill Kelly’s shoes,” Plath said.

“He would be able to serve as CEO for 5 to 10 years or so before his retirement, which makes him the perfect transitional CEO for the company as it moves away from the original founding managers into the next generation of bankers.”

Although Plath said the chief operating officer post “is highly visible inside the bank, but not so much with analysts, shareholders, legislators, etc.”

Chris Marinac, an analyst with FIG Partners of Atlanta, said the promotion of Brown indicates “it is quite possible that this is indeed their thinking” to name him as King’s successor.