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Huntington execs predict loan growth of up to 6% in 2018

Huntington Bancshares Inc. executives are optimistic heading into next year and see the Ohio-based company's loans rising by 4% to 6% in 2018, they said on a call Dec. 6.

Stephen Steinour, the company's chairman, president and CEO, said at a Goldman Sachs conference in New York that 2018 is "setting up to be one of the better years" in the past decade, particularly if Congress approves tax reform and boosts investment further.

Steinour also highlighted the company's acquisition last year of FirstMerit Corp., reiterating that Huntington already implemented the roughly $255 million of projected savings from the deal and is focused on meeting its promise to grow revenues by more than $100 million. He said Huntington is projecting a revenue bump of $48 million at the end of 2017, and will reach its target from the deal in 2018.

Asked whether Huntington is eyeing another acquisition, the chief executive said his priority is growing organically and to "deliver the revenue" targets it had laid out from the FirstMerit Corp. acquisition.

Huntington CFO Howard McCullough, meanwhile, said the company does not "have to" pursue another acquisition to keep growing.

"We feel really, really good about how we're positioned," he said.