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BB&T dismisses M&A talk despite imminent consent order release

BB&T Corp. Chairman and CEO Kelly King on Jan. 17 largely dismissed a question on the bank's interest in deal activity as it nears an exit from a regulatory consent order.

The bank had been under consent orders related to its compliance program with the Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering regulations. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the bank's state regulator terminated their joint consent order against the company's banking subsidiary in June 2018, but the Federal Reserve's consent order remains outstanding. King said he is confident the Federal Reserve will likewise lift its order shortly.

"I would expect, frankly, that the Fed's order would be lifted in the relatively near term," King said during the 2018 fourth-quarter earnings call. "Obviously, I can't control that, but there's no reason for it to be any protracted period of time because all of the feedback that we have is that we have done everything that we've been asked to do."

After the FDIC's lifting of its consent order, King entertained M&A questions during a July 19, 2018, call, saying the bank had been in discussions and would consider an in-market deal. The bank's stock sold off following the comments. On the Jan. 17 call, King declined to open the door to potential deals when an analyst asked whether the bank would consider a deal after the Fed removes its consent order.

"As I said at the investor conference, we are laser-focused on the initiatives you've heard us talk about," King said, apparently referencing various digital investment and cost-reduction programs around a "Disrupt or Die" theme.