BBVA Compass (formerly Compass Bank) is a publicly held company and a subsidiary of Compass Bancshares, Inc., a division of the Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) with $47 billion in assets and 415 full-service banking offices in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, and Texas. Compass is one of the nation's 30 largest banks, and is a member of the S&P 500 Index and the Dow Jones Select Dividend Index. Its headquarters are in the Daniel Building at 15 20th Street South in Midtown Birmingham.
The company was founded in 1964 as Central Bank and Trust Company by Harry Brock, Jr, Schuyler Baker and Hugh Daniel with $1 million of capital. Other founding directors included Frank L. Hardy, John R. Israel, Wendell H. Taylor and Stewart Welch. Soon later, Wally Nall, John Evins, Inos Heard, and Tom Jernigan joined the board.
In 1967 the company moved into a new 15-story new headquarters building on 20th Street South. By the following year, agressive marketing and creative services had propelled the state-chartered bank's assets to $82 million, or 7% of the Birmingham market after four years. The next year, Central made an unprecedented hostile takeover bid for Decatur's State National Bank, the only bank that could open branches across county lines. The bid was supported by Hugh Agricola and other shareholders of the First National Bank of Gadsden, which had been bought by State National. It was financed by a $10 million line of credit from the Bank of Virginia, which was pioneering its own statewide banking company. By July, Central was able to assemble a voting trust representing about a third of State National's shares in advance of a public offering of $70 per share. The City National Bank of Birmingham, which had also been planning a merger, countered with $80 per share. Central instructed their brokers to buy as many shares as they could up to $85 and ended with enough shares to control State National's board.
In response, Alabama's other major banks filed several court actions in an attempt to block the merger. One action, brought in Federal Court, did succeed with blocking it, on the technicality that Alabama's banking laws, under which the state-chartered bank operated, were incompatible on a few points with Federal banking laws that governed the national banks in the area of mergers. While this finding was being appealed, banking lobbyists were pushing for new legislation that would prevent the merged company from being able to operate in more than one county. Brock and Central Bank's other officers personally lobbied against the bill, and though it would have passed easily, died in committee without reaching the floor for a vote.
 Statewide banking
The result of the failed bill was that statewide bank holding companies were recognized as a legal possibility for the first time, and the other major banks moved quickly to organize while Central was waiting for a decision on their appeal. Another group, led by Frank Plummer, Norman Pless, and Bob Lowery even stole Brock's intended name for the holding company, First Alabama Bancshares. Central did win their appeal and formed the Central and State National Corporation, which was soon renamed Central Bancshares of the South. In 1973 this new holding corporation issued a new stock offering to fuel the growth of the statewide network. In 1979 the bank opened a large branch office at 1560 Montgomery Highway in Hoover.
In 1981 Central and a coalition of other bank holding companies successfully lobbied for the Bank Merger Act, allowing statewide bank branching under a single banking company. For the next two years, the combined holdings of Central Bank of the South were the largest single bank in Alabama.
 Interstate banking
Quickly, the bank began pursuing interstate banking in the legislature, and was successful, again with the help of other big banks, in passing enabling legislation that took effect in 1986.
Their first acquisition out of state was the failing First National Bank of Crosby, Texas in February 1987. Central was the first out-of-state bank to operate in Texas, and they already had their foothold in Harris County, where Houston is located. After they established another group in the Dallas area, they created a new holding company, Compass Bancshares of Texas, with headquarters in Houston. As other banks were acquired in Texas, Florida and New Mexico, the Compass name was applied to the entire corporation.
D. Paul Jones took over the CEO position from Brock in 1991. Rumors of sales of Compass to larger banks swirled through the 1990s, with Jones actually blocking a sale to First Union which was being engineered by his predecessor.
On February 16, 2007, Compass announced that it would be acquired for $9.6 billion ($71.82 per share) by the Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), the second-largest bank in Spain. According to representatives of Compass, BBVA plans to keep the Compass name and keep the same management headquartered in Birmingham. Some analysts expected that the headquarters would move to Texas once Jones retired. In January 2008, Gary Hegel took over as CEO. BBVA announced in March 2008 that they had recieved approval to merge its three other U. S. banks into Compass's operations. Laredo National Bank, State National Bank and Texas State Bank are expected to be merged with Compass by the end of the year.
 Major acquisitions
- First National Bank of Crosby, Texas - February 26, 1987
- City National Bank of Plano, Texas - November 10, 1989
- River Oaks Bancshares, Houston, Texas - March 28, 1991
- Promenade Bancshares, Richardson, Texas - July 31, 1991
- FWNB Bancshares, Carrollton, Texas - December 22, 1992
- Cornerstone Bancshares, Dallas, Texas - January 19, 1993
- First Federal Savings Bank of Northwest Florida, Ft Walton Beach, Florida - October 14, 1993
- First Performance National Bank, Jacksonville, Florida - January 27, 1994
- First Heights Bank FSB, Houston, Texas - October 1, 1994
- Equitable Bankshares, Dallas, Texas - April 11, 1996
- Post Oak Bank, Houston, Texas - April 19, 1996
- CFB Bancorp, Jacksonville, Florida - August 23, 1996
- Enterprise National Bank, Jacksonville, Florida - January 15, 1997
- Horizon Bancorp, Austin, Texas - March 12, 1997
- Central Texas Bancorp, Waco, Texas - July 15, 1997
- GSB Investments, Jacksonville, Florida - January 13, 1998
- Fidelity Resources Company, Dallas, Texas - February 9, 1998
- Arizona Bank, Tucson, Arizona - December 15, 1998
- Norwest/Well Fargo offices, Phoenix, Arizona - April 19, 1999
- Heartland Bank, Austin, Texas - October 20, 1999
- Western Bancshares, Albuquerque, New Mexico - January 13, 2000
- MegaBank Financial Corporation, Denver, Colorado - April 3, 2000
- Founders Bank of Arizona - July 17, 2000
- FirsTier Corporation, Colorado - January 4, 2001
- TexasBanc Holding Company, Fort Worth, Texas - March 24, 2006
 External links
- BBVA Compass website
- Brock, Harry B. Jr (1991) A Competitive Spirit: How a Little Bank Made a Big Difference. New York: Newcomen Society. Publication No. 1351.
- Goodman, Sherri C. (February 18, 2007) "Maverick Compass again bucks the system." Birmingham News.
- Compass Bancshares. (2006, July 23). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:53, October 25, 2006 
- Compass Bank. Merger & Acquisition History - accessed February 18, 2007