While the proposed buyout of FirstMerit Corp. will likely involve job cuts in Akron and elsewhere, buyer Huntington Bancshares says its long-term goal is to grow — and that means adding jobs. But they’re not making any long-term promises.
In the interim, Huntington Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Steinour has said he hopes to keep layoffs to a minimum in the Akron headquarters after it acquires Akron-based FirstMerit in a $3.4 billion blockbuster deal announced this week.
The head of the Columbus-based banking company also has committed that within two years, Huntington’s employment in Akron will be at 1,200 — the same number FirstMerit has within the city now.
But what about beyond two years?
“It is too early to say exactly what the employment mix will look like,” Huntington spokesman Brent Wilder said. “The intent is to maintain 1,200 jobs in the city approximate to the employment impact FirstMerit has today. Beyond two years, it is not possible to say with certainty, but Huntington has been on a growth trajectory for the past several years so that employment across the company has grown commensurately.”
It’s also unclear which FirstMerit’s senior management or high-level decision makers located in the Akron area will remain in the region long-term after the deal and which Huntington executives will come. Bill Shivers currently serves as president of the Huntington Akron/Canton region and is based in Canton.
FirstMerit Chairman, President and CEO Paul Greig, at least, will be retiring and serving as a consultant after the deal closes.
“It is too early to comment on future executive presence for the combined company within Akron, other than to note we anticipate senior-level members of the workforce being based in Akron,” Wilder said. “We have not made decisions about ongoing future leadership within the area for the company at this time; however, we are very confident in Bill’s leadership for our existing Akron-Canton region and also Huntington’s Mahoning Valley region.”
Here some more answers to questions about the proposed deal. Answers are based on information provided by Huntington officials and Beacon Journal research.
For some questions and answers already published on Wednesday about the proposed deal and previous stories, go to www.ohio.com/betty
Q: How do Huntington policies differ from FirstMerit policies? For example, will I lose my free checking account?
A: No. Both Huntington and FirstMerit offer three types of checking accounts. FirstMerit customers with free checking accounts will transition to Huntington’s Asterisk-Free Checking with no balance minimums or maintenance fees or can choose a Huntington interest-bearing option.
Q: Will I still be able to get foreign currency from downtown Akron?
A: Huntington deposit customers can order foreign currency from the branch network to be shipped to an address of their choosing for secure delivery for an $8 shipping fee.
Q: If I am a business account holder, will I still be able to do wire transfers with online banking, or do I have to go to the nearest branch?
A: Huntington business customers using Business Online can conduct wire transfers remotely.
Q: Huntington has said all FirstMerit branch employees will have a job, even with branches closing. Won’t fewer branches with more staffers result in employees from either company working fewer hours or being forced to move from full-time to part-time?
A: Huntington’s Wilder responded: “We do not anticipate having too many people within the branch staff upon conversion, which is why we are publicly stating we will offer ongoing employment to FirstMerit branch employees. We anticipate needing a combined branch employment base to continue superior service to our customers. There is no intent to transition branch employees to reduced schedules.”
Q: How do I object to this merger? Who has to approve it?
A: The Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) need to approve this merger. The U.S. Department of Justice also reviews the transaction. The Federal Reserve and OCC accept public comments. A Federal Reserve spokeswoman said the agency has not yet received an application from the banks, but the public can comment by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to: Nadine Wallman, Vice President, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, 1455 East Sixth Street, Cleveland, OH, 44114
The OCC will publish a notice of all applications and then open a public comment period. During that time, the public can file objections specifically to the staffer assigned to the case. A case has not yet been established.
Shareholders for both banks also need to approve the merger.
Q: What do FirstMerit shareholders get out of the deal?
A: Shareholders of FirstMerit will receive 1.72 shares of Huntington’s common stock, and $5 in cash, for each share of FirstMerit common stock. The per share consideration is valued at $20.14 per share based on the closing price of Huntington common stock on Monday, the day the deal was announced. .
Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or email@example.com. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at www.ohio.com/betty