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Pinnacle Financial Partners capitalizing on M&A wave to bolster organic growth

At a time when many banks are turning to M&A to offset the tough operating environment, Pinnacle Financial Partners Inc. sees increased opportunity to expand its footprint through de novo efforts.

The Nashville-based company hired 36 "revenue producers" during the quarter, with many of the hires coming from competitors, President and CEO Michael Terry Turner said on the company's second-quarter earnings conference call.

"A lot of that's tied to M&A activity, just the frustrations that go along with being acquired. And maybe in the case of some of the MOEs ... that's creating a lot of opportunity," Turner said. "And then I think a couple of the big banks are just in a difficult spot, whether it's with regulators or whatever, but the bureaucratic grind is really working on their people. And so there's a lot of vulnerability that comes out of that."

As Pinnacle Financial capitalizes on the uptick in hiring opportunities, Turner said the company has its sights set on de novo expansion in the Southeast.

"We like the top 25 markets in the Southeast, period, which as you say, a good number of them included are in Florida. And so those are attractive markets to us," the CEO said. "M&A is on the table. ... But, [M&A] is not the most likely path for us. I love de novo starts, and I think the opportunity for de novo starts are perhaps better now than I ever remember them."

Pinnacle Financial has branches in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The bank also has one branch in Georgia, where it recently expanded into the Atlanta metropolitan statistical area. The company is also currently working on a de novo expansion into Birmingham and Huntsville, Ala.

"The markets we currently serve and the markets that are likely available to us over time, would suggest an ability to grow rapidly on an organic basis, even at a time when many are going to struggle to grow revenue and earnings organically," Turner said.