Synovus plans to buy parent of First Florida

By Times Staff
Published November 1, 2005

Synovus, a Georgia financial services company with banking operations in the Tampa Bay area, said it plans to buy Banking Corp. of Florida, the Naples parent company of First Florida Bank, in a tax-free exchange of common stock. First Florida Bank has $342-million in assets with branches in Naples and Winter Park, plus a loan production branch in Fort Myers. The Synovus name was adopted this year by three acquired banks in the Tampa Bay area: United Bank and Trust Co. in St. Petersburg, United Bank of the Gulf Coast in Sarasota and Peoples Bank in Palm Harbor. With the latest purchase, Synovus' assets in Florida will exceed $4-billion.

GM retains dividend in face of losses

General Motors Corp., the world's largest automaker, will keep its quarterly dividend at 50 cents a share, maintaining a payout of $1.13-billion a year even as the company continues to post losses. The decision countered speculation that GM might reduce or scrap the dividend to save cash after four quarters of losses, its longest unprofitable streak in 13 years. GM hasn't cut the payout since 1992. The Detroit-based automaker reported cash, marketable securities and assets from retirement funds of $19-billion at the end of the third quarter.

AOL co-founder exits Time Warner board

Steve Case, the America Online co-founder who shepherded the company through its merger with Time Warner Inc., said Monday he is resigning immediately from the Time Warner board of directors. Case, who recently launched a Washington-based firm, Revolution LLC, that invests in consumer health and wellness companies, cited interest in spending more time with those companies as the reason for his departure.

Reader's Digest CEO to retire on Jan. 1

Reader's Digest Association Inc., publisher of the world's largest paid-circulation magazine, said chief executive Thomas Ryder will retire on Jan. 1 and will be succeeded by global editor-in-chief Eric Schrier. Ryder, 61, will continue as the Pleasantville, N.Y., company's chairman through 2006 as part of the transition, the company said.

T-bill rates rise

Interest rates on short-term Treasury bills rose in Monday's auction to the highest levels since the spring of 2001. The Treasury Department auctioned $19-billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 3.890 percent, up from 3.850 percent last week. An additional $17-billion in six-month bills was auctioned at a discount rate of 4.125 percent, up from 4.065 percent last week.