PNC CEO in Triangle to talk merger, jobs

RALEIGH On Monday, PNC announced that it is buying the U.S. retail operations of RBC Bank for $3.45 billion.

The Pittsburgh based company said that the transaction will bring its total to 2,870 branches and make it the fifth biggest among U.S. banks. RBC Bank (USA), based in Raleigh, has 424 branches and about $25 billion of assets.

In the meantime, there is concern about job losses if any positions at the headquarters are duplicated inside the PNC corporate structure.

PNC CEO James Rohr could reveal who stays and who goes when he meets with workers Tuesday.

According to the head of RBC, entering southern states from North Carolina on down to Florida means PNC will need RBC's existing buildings and most of the employees.

But losing a banking headquarters is a blow to the capital city's ego and prestige. Downtown Raleigh is already losing Progress Energy's headquarters when the merger with Duke Energy is complete.

"We'll certainly be in touch with the PNC people and encourage them to retain this as a regional headquarters and what they plan to do is up to them they'll make those choices over the next three to four months," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said.

However, North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue is optimistic.

"North Carolina is a tremendously strong banking state," she said. "They tell me this acquisition will bring in a different player in the network, we've seen what happened with Wells Fargo and Wachovia and we've seen that their numbers of employees have actually grown. They've surpassed where they were when Wachovia was acquired."

Nonetheless, there is also concerns about the impact the bank buyout will have in Rocky Mount, because RBC still employs more than a 1,000 people at the operations center and eight bank branches.

"There's so many people whose husbands or wife's are there, could they stay in this community or have to go to a new place to retain job or find a new job that's certainly a concern of ours, and yeah it would have an impact, anyone who told you otherwise would be lying," Rocky Mount Mayor David Combs said.

Rocky Mount currently has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 12.5 percent.

The CEO of PNC says most of those jobs will remain. He has characterized the likely layoffs as "minimal."

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