Business

PNC CEO will roar into Raleigh to reassure RBC workers, others

Posted June 20, 2011 1:49 p.m. EDT
Updated June 20, 2011 6:52 p.m. EDT

— James Rohr, chairman and chief executive of PNC Financial Services Group (NYSE: PNC), plans to bring a great deal of enthusiasm and assurances about most jobs when he travels to Raleigh on Friday to meet with employees at RBC Bank.

“We need all customer-facing people,” Rohr (pronounced “roar”) said Monday after announcing PNC's $3.45 billion purchase of RBC.

“There is no overlap between our operations in North Carolina. Secondly, we don’t have an operations center in that area, so we need the operations center in Rocky Mount,” he said.

Having met recently with some RBC employees during due diligence ahead of the acquisition announcement, Rohr made clear he was impressed.

“That is one fine group of people,” he said, calling RBC a “wonderful franchise” and noting that the exuberance he displayed in a conference call with the media and financial analysts Monday morning reflected his personal excitement about the deal.

In buying RBC, PNC will gain the massive RBC tower in downtown Raleigh as well as naming rights to RBC Center, which hosts Carolina Hurricanes hockey games, North Carolina State University basketball games and other entertainment and sporting events.

“Those are impressive properties,” Rohr said, adding that PNC is committed to both.

Although Rohr said “some jobs will go away,” he said he has "no idea” as to the extent of any job cuts.

RBC Bank employs about 500 people in Raleigh, another 1,000 at the Rocky Mount center and 2,600 people statewide, according to Chief Executive Jim Westlake.

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker wasn't enthusiastic about the deal, which comes only a few months after Raleigh-based Progress Energy reached a deal to merge with Duke Energy, likely resulting in its headquarters moving to Charlotte.

"We don't have that many corporate headquarters here, so it is a big deal to us," Meeker said.

Headquarters operations not only mean executive jobs, they also lend prestige to a city and are usually a focal point for charitable support.

Downtown businesses also could feel the effect of the Progress Energy and RBC mergers if employment in the central business district drops.

"In a small business, if you get 20 (fewer) people a day, that's a lot, and it makes a big difference," said Floye Dombalis, owner of Mecca Restaurant.

Rohr stressed that PNC could very well add jobs once the deal closes early next year because his bank will offer services that RBC did not, such as more online banking and a greater emphasis on business accounts. PNC won’t transfer people from its existing staff into Raleigh and across the Southeast to fill RBC positions, he said.

PNC also will remain active in the community, Rohr said, noting that the bank has a program that pays employees up to 40 hours a year to volunteer in early childhood centers.

PNC will name a president to oversee its Raleigh operations, but Rohr said he doesn’t envision Raleigh serving as a hub for the bank.

“We are in 31 markets, and each has a president,” he said. “They report to two executives in our organization. We want them to have impact.”

Although PNC executives talked about how the acquisition would lead to as much as $340 million in savings, Rohr said he’s coming to Raleigh to talk about the need to keep RBC employees and facilities.

“I want to spend time with the Raleigh employees and answer their questions as best I can,” he said.

Rohr is a near-40 year veteran at PNC, having joined the firm in 1972. He took over as CEO in May 2000 and as chairman a year later. In 2007, he received the American Bankers Association’s “Banker of the Year” award.

The RBC deal is the latest in a series of acquisitions that will make PNC the nation’s fifth-largest bank. It currently ranks 12th.

The top five banks currently are: Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs.