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BB&T's Allison: A Free Market Could Have Prevented This

"While all financial intermediaries are being impacted by liquidity issues, this is primarily a bailout of poorly run financial institutions," Allison pointed out in the Sept. 23 letter. "It is extremely important that the bailout not damage well-run companies."

AUDIO: Allison says the government has created an 'oligopoly' by anointing banks.

Few would disagree that BB&T, which operates in 11 states in the South, mid-Atlantic and Washington, D.C., is a well-run company. The bank saw its total assets jump from $4.5 billion to $152 billion under Allison's stewardship. Its share price skyrocketed to its all-time high of $44.63 on Dec. 27, 2006. The stock is currently now trading at roughly $18 a share.

" Allison established and nurtured a corporate culture of the highest integrity," BB&T lead corporate director James Maynard, who is also the co-founder and chairman of the Golden Corral restaurant chain, said in the August release announcing Allison's retirement. "His leadership is unique and unprecedented in the financial industry. Our company has seen profitable growth for more than 20 years."

Unlike larger, in-state rivals like BofA and Wachovia, which was acquired by Wells Fargo (WFC - Get Report) at the end of last year, BB&T has remained profitable, mostly due to its conservative lending standards and the discipline that Allison and his team followed.

Richard Bove, an analyst at Ladenburg Thalmann, is among the bank's fans.

"While BB&T is fully aware of the challenges being presented by the current economic downturn, the bank seems to have a positive take on its position within the economy," he wrote in a recent note.

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