Signs that regional giant Colonial Bank was in dire straits have abounded for weeks. Today, regulators reportedly decided to step in after reaching an agreement to sell the Montgomery, Alabama–based bank's $20 billion in deposits and more than 350 branches to BB&T Corp. (BBT).

This would be a logical purchase for BB&T, based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. A voracious acquirer of smaller rivals with a strong presence throughout the Southeast, BB&T has already bought another failed bank from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. -- Georgia's Haven Trust Bank, which it snapped up in December.

But Colonial's size would certainly distinguish this deal. A subsidiary of Colonial Bancgroup (CNB) with some $27 billion in assets as of June 30, Colonial would be the biggest bank to go under since Washington Mutual last fall. News of BB&T's deal to take over Colonial is being reported by The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News.

BB&T is among a handful of big regional banks that take advantage of regulators' weekly seizures of foundering financial institutions, bulking up and expanding their reach. Zions Bancorporation (ZION), US Bancorp (USB), and Regions Financial (RF) have all bought at least two failed banks out of FDIC receivership since the beginning of 2008.

Recent U.S. Bank Failures
Browse the map for more data on banks banks that have failed since Jan. 1, 2007.
Source: FDIC/DailyFinance


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