BBVA Compass

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2019 BBVA logo

BBVA Compass (later simplified to BBVA) was the US-based division of Spain's Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, operating from 2007 to 2021, when the division was sold to the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based PNC Bank.

Though BBVA had staffed a New York City office since 1988 and provided remittance services along the U.S./Mexico border after acquiring Mexico's Banco de Comercio (Bancomer) in 1994, it only entered the US banking market with the purchase of the 4-branch Valley Bank in Moreno Valley, California in 2004. In order to extend its reach in Spanish-speaking communities familiar with its Bancomer brand, BBVA acquired three banks in South Texas between 2005 and 2007: Laredo National Bank (32 branches), Texas State Bank (80 branches) and State National Bank (44 branches).

During that period, BBVA expanded its growth strategy beyond the Spanish-speaking market, seeking inroads in the general banking market over a larger territory. On February 16, 2007 BBVA took a major step toward that goal when it announced that it had agreed to purchase Birmingham's Compass Bank, which then had 422 branches in 6 Southern states, including a large presence in Texas. The sale price was announced as $9.6 billion, or $71.82 per share.

BBVA rebranded the newly-acquired operations under the BBVA Compass name and adopted Compass' administrative offices in the Daniel Building for its headquarters offices, with Compass' D. Paul Jones as CEO. In addition, Compass Bank's Harry B. Brock Administrative Center in Lakeview expanded its role as the technology center for the growing bank chain.

The company's older Texas acquisitions continued to be overseen from a "BBVA USA" headquarters in Woodlands, Texas near Houston, and chairman José María García Meyer oversaw both operations from that office. On January 1, 2008, former Compass chief financial officer Gary Hegel succeeded D. Paul Jones as CEO of BBVA Compass. Over the course of that year he oversaw the incorporation of BBVA USA's Texas-based banks into the BBVA Compass network.

Though stated publicly in January that, "Compass will remain based in Birmingham," in reality the ongoing process of merging BBVA USA with BBVA Compass resulted in the combined company's executive administrative center quietly migrating into the Woodlands offices, while many large departmental offices and the bank's technical operations were concentrated in Birmingham. BBVA's global presence helped to shield its overall balance sheet from the effects of the Great Recession, but also made it ineligible for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) created under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

At the end of 2008 BBVA Compass reported total assets of approximately $61.2 billion, and operated 579 branch offices with more than 12,000 employees. During the course of that year, the bank laid off approximately 10% of its workforce to reduce its expenses in the face of depressed economic activity. In August, BBVA Compass acquired the failed Guaranty Bank of Austin, Texas through the FDIC's receivership, adding $12 billion in assets and 120 branches in Texas and California to its network.

In 2010 the bank signed a 3-year agreement to become the title sponsor of the BBVA Compass Bowl, a postseason bowl game at Legion Field which had previously been played as the " Bowl". The company also secured naming rights for the $95 million BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston and the $7.3 million BBVA Field on the UAB campus. Between 2011 and 2013 it also constructed a new headquarters building, the 22-story BBVA Compass Plaza in Houston's Uptown district.

Meanwhile, beginning in 2011 the bank also embarked on a $362 million project to re-engineer its "core technology platform", allowing for real-time processing of deposits and payments across its network of branch offices. Over the next few years the bank also invested in online banking, user experience design, digital analytics and other technologies by acquiring start-ups such as Simple, a Portland, Oregon-based "neobank", and Spring Studio, a digital design firm in San Francisco, California. BBVA began operating a "New Digitial Business Unit" in San Francisco and a "Creation Center" in Dallas, Texas. In Birmingham, the bank created a $13 million "Development Center" at the Brock Administrative Center, and also leased space at Innovation Depot for a "Cross Industry Development Center", both announced in the spring of 2015. Onur Genç succeeded Sánchez as CEO at the end of 2016 and took charge of the bank's strategy to expand its business and corporate banking operations.

In 2019 BBVA Compass held $91 billion in assets and operated 672 full-service banking offices in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, and Texas. BBVA's United States banking division was one of the nation's 30 largest banks, and was a member of the S&P 500 Index and the Dow Jones Select Dividend Index.

BBVA Compass and its siblings (Francés in Argentina, Bancomer in Mexico, and Continental in Peru) were rebranded as BBVA in 2019. In November 2020 BBVA announced the sale of its US operations to PNC Bank of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for $11.6 billion. The sale closed in May 2021. With the acquisition, PNC became the 5th largest bank in the United States with $550 billion in assets.

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