Waters says BB&T-SunTrust warrants 'serious scrutiny'

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WASHINGTON — House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said Thursday that the proposed BB&T-SunTrust Banks merger raises “many questions” and should be scrutinized by regulators, Congress and the public.

“This proposed merger between SunTrust and BB&T is a direct consequence of the deregulatory agenda that Trump and Congressional Republicans have advanced,” Waters said in a statement to American Banker. “The proposed merger raises many questions and deserves serious scrutiny from banking regulators, Congress and the public to determine its impact and whether it would create a public benefit for consumers.”

In her statement, Waters criticized the bill President Trump signed into law in May that provided relief from the Dodd-Frank Act’s regulations for certain banks. Waters strongly opposed that bill, which was targeted at community banks, despite the support it garnered from several Democrats in the House and Senate.

“Last Congress, I and other Democrats warned that S.2155, which Republicans claimed to be a bill to benefit community banks, was in fact a broader deregulatory giveaway to large banks that would fuel mergers, accelerate industry consolidation, and make it more difficult for community banks to compete,” Waters said. “Nonetheless, Republicans pushed the bill through and it was signed into law.”

Waters added that Trump-appointed regulators' plans for larger banks are “creating further incentives for big banks to get even bigger.”

Waters' comments come as she is setting a wide-ranging agenda for the new Democrat-controlled House Financial Services Committee that is expected to include stricter oversight of big banks, as well as Trump's regulators.

If the merger is approved, the combined bank, which would have assets of roughly $442 billion, would likely face tougher regulations, including tougher capital, liquidity and stress-testing requirements.

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M&A Regulatory reform Regulatory relief Dodd-Frank Maxine Waters House Financial Services Committee BB&T SunTrust