Regions Center Birmingham-based Regions Financial Corporation is one of the largest banking companies in the United States, with assets of more than $147 billion as of 2021. A publicly held company headquartered in Birmingham and a member of the Standard & Poor’s 100 Index, Regions Financial Corporation provides retail and commercial banking, trust, securities brokerage, and mortgage and insurance products and services. Regions’ emergence as one of the nation’s largest banking operations resulted from its $10 billion merger in 2006 with AmSouth Bancorporation, another successful Birmingham bank. The merged company operates approximately 1,450 branches and 1,950 automated teller machines (ATMs) under the Regions name in 16 states across the South and Midwest. Regions is now the 33rd largest of the top 100 banks in the nation and the only one from the state of Alabama on that list. Regions Financial Corporation is a member of the S&P 100 Index and is on Forbes magazine’s “Platinum 400” list of America’s best big companies.
First National Bank of Huntsville The predecessor of Regions was founded on July 13, 1971, when three of the state’s oldest banks—the First National Bank of Huntsville, founded in 1856; the First National Bank of Montgomery, founded in 1871; and the Exchange Security Bank of Birmingham, founded in 1928—combined to form First Alabama Bancshares (First Alabama), the first state-chartered bank holding company in Alabama. In just three years, First Alabama doubled its assets, from $543 million in 1971 to $1.2 billion by the end of 1974. Its member banks continued to operate independently of each other until 1981, when the Alabama legislature passed a law that allowed multi-bank holding companies to merge their member banks into one statewide bank. In addition to the three initial affiliate banks, First Alabama acquired several smaller banks before its acquisition of the state’s remaining major banking entity, Merchants National Bank of Mobile, in 1983.
First Alabama was actively engaged in employing new technologies in the banking industry. In 1981, it established a statewide network of ATMs known as the Right Place banking machines, which provided customers with convenient banking options after hours at multiple locations. Its extensive network of ATMs enabled Regions to play a key role in the organization of a statewide shared network with other banks, which went online in April 1986. The following year, Regions became the first bank in the state to offer its customers direct access to their account information by an automated telephone inquiry service. Telephone banking services have since then been largely supplanted by online banking services.
Beginning in 1987, First Alabama Bancshares took advantage of changes in federal legislation that allowed it to purchase out-of-state banks. The company’s first out-of-state acquisition was in Milton, Florida, in 1987. By 1994, First Alabama had expanded into Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Texas. The company operated banks in a total of eight states in the Southeast, and the management decided to change its name to reflect its regional presence. Thus, on May 2, 1994, First Alabama Bancshares became Regions Financial Corporation, with its banking division becoming known simply as Regions Bank.
In the early 2000s, Regions was involved with other major transactions that allowed it to broaden its customer base. On December 19, 2000, Regions purchased Memphis-based Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc., a full-service investment firm offering its customers investment banking, securities brokerage, and wealth and asset management services, with more than 400 offices in 19 states and more than 4,500 employees. Another organizational change occurred in 2004, when the Regions Insurance Group, Inc. was created to provide corporate structure for all of the firm’s insurance-related subsidiaries, including Rebsamen Insurance, ICT Insurance, and Regions Insurance Services. Also in 2004, Regions merged with Union Planters Bank in a deal totaling $5.9 billion that allowed further expansion of the Regions network into new areas of the South and Midwest.
AmSouth-Regions Merger The AmSouth merger in 2006 made Regions the nation’s eighth largest bank. During the financial crisis of 2007-08, Regions Bank received $3.5 billion dollars in federal money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program; the bank repaid the money in 2012. During the crisis, Regions acquired two more bank, Integrity Bank of Alpharetta, Georgia, and FirstBank Financial Services of McDonough, Georgia. In 2018, the company sold its insurance component to BB&T. In 2015, the company was assessed a $7.5 million fine for illegal overdraft fees.
Both Regions and AmSouth have a throughout their history made charitable donations to community efforts in Alabama. In 2005, for example, both companies donated a total of approximately $14 million in support of the arts, education, health and human services, and community and economic development. That year, Regions also became the title sponsor of the Regions Charity Classic presented by Bruno’s Supermarkets. Part of the Professional Golf Association’s annual Champions Tour for senior golfers, this tournament has become one of the largest charitable events in the state, with approximately $10 million having been donated to Birmingham area charities. Regions also provides financial assistance to help fund many organizations that administer community service programs to low- and moderate-income individuals, revitalize and stabilize low- and moderate-income areas, and provide homebuyer education and financial literacy programs. Regions also partners with Atlanta-based Operation Hope, Inc., an international nonprofit focused on promoting financial literacy and economic education. The company is the major sponsor of Regions Field, a minor-league baseball stadium in downtown Birmingham that is also home to the baseball team for the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Professional Golfer’s Association tournament The Tradition, held annually at the Greystone Golf & Country Club in Birmingham.
O’Donnell, Joe. The Forge, Metal to Medicine: Birmingham’s Business History. Birmingham, Ala.: Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce, 2007.