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Synovus Shrinks Board As It Mulls Sale

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Synovus Financial (SNV - Get Report) is playing musical chairs with its board seats in what one analyst believes is a move to sell the bank.

Synovus announced that four incumbent directors will be stepping down in April. At the same time it nominated only two people -- Joseph Prochaska, the former executive vice president and chief accounting officer of MetLife (MET - Get Report) and Catherine Allen, chairman and CEO of consulting firm The Santa Fe Group -- to replace them.

"If you look at the history of Synovus most of its board members have been from Atlanta. These two new members are not from the area," said Christopher Marinac, director of research at FIG Partners. "It looks like the company is trying to be more diverse in its selection."

Marinac said the move could be a sign, but is likely not directly tied to any, "strategic options," the company may be perusing.

The analyst said that he believes that if there is pressure for Synovus to sell it will come from regulators. Marinac said that Synovus and Regions Financial (RF - Get Report) may be forced to defer on repaying Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) dividends because they are not generating a profit.

"The longer Synovus stays independent, the more probable it will be for them to sell at a higher price," said Marinac. "I think if investors do the math they are going to see there is an opportunity here." He added that the bank could sell at a premium, although he would not specify how much that premium could be.

A bidder could take a markdown of 12 percent in any purchase, similar to the Bank of Montreal (BMO - Get Report) acquisition of Marshall & Ilsley Corp. (MI), Adam Barkstrom, managing director of equity research at Sterne Agee told TheStreet.

--Written by Maria Woehr in New York.

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