Tuesday, March 01, 2011

1 MAR 11: SYN-Town No More?

Despite all the gloomy talk I hear and doom-filled predictions I read online, March begins with the Dow Jones Industrial Average having gained ground three months in a row. The stock market "bears" are faring far worse than the football team in Chicago did.

But business pessimists in Columbus may have seen an announcement Monday as the beginning of an end. Synovus Financial announced several familiar local names are leaving the board of directors -- and two potential replacements live well outside the area. Unless those newcomers drive Kias and have time-shares near Callaway Gardens....

Synovus revealed Gardiner Gerrard of The Jordan Company and William Turner Jr. of The W.C. Bradley Company will NOT stand for re-election at the shareholders meeting in April. Neither will Aflac's Dan Amos - even though he's comfortable with out-of-towners, from all those policy holders who live in Japan.

Two nominees for the Synovus board were named, from MetLife and The Santa Fe Group of New Mexico. Some business analysts see this as a sign of corporate diversity. But others are bound to see it another way - as Columbus leaders hurrying out onto Bay Avenue, before local control slides downhill to be washed down the Chattahoochee River.

The list of Synovus board members indicates even with Monday's announced departures, at least one-third of the directors still will have strong ties to Columbus. But the number of local "good ol' boys" is about to decline - and Synovus so far hasn't offered Teresa Pike Tomlinson a spot on the board, to match Phillip at TSYS.

(By comparison, the TSYS board of directors has about a 50-percent composition of Columbus residents. In fact, several people are listed on both the Synovus and TSYS boards. How refreshing to see the companies remaining friends, after their recent corporate divorce.)

The potential shift to more outsiders on the Synovus board only adds fuel to the rumors about a possible buyout. London's "Financial Times" reported last week executives have sought counsel about potentially selling the company. If Synovus sells too soon, it won't be able to offer the new managers free rafting privileges.

Synovus Financial has been hurt in recent years by the weak housing market. Its stock remains below three dollars a share, down more than ten percent in the last 12 months. But the company is promising a first-quarter dividend -- of one cent per share. You wondered where the phrase "a penny for your thoughts" started, didn't you?

(Before you ask - no, I do NOT think Synovus stock is staying flat as a promotion for National Pancake Day.)

But other local companies have done well in the recent stock market surge. Aflac closed Monday near 59 dollars a share, and its stock value has jumped nearly 50 percent since June. I'd say the price has "flown" upward, but that duck seems to waddle a lot more than it flies.

-> A weekend poker night had a sad interruption. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: Since we brought up ducks....

Columbus is becoming a wildlife sanctuary..On Armour Ave behind HHS I saw a coyote and a fox at different times..Then on Macon Rd.yesterday near Strifflers I saw a huge deer that had been hit by a car.I live in a highly populated residential area ,but have raccoons and opossums that frequent my yard and pesky squirrels . Perhaps the Columbus logo should have a pack of wildlife drinking from a city fountain..

Thanks for alerting us to this. Maybe now someone will start lobbying for higher and sturdier fences at Oxbow Meadows.

A couple of cats scamper around my neighborhood, because a neighbor leaves a pile of cat food outside the back door. And I had a rare close-up look Monday night at the lizard in my kitchen, which seems to keep the cockroaches away. I think it's only coincidence that I had Geico car insurance for several years before it showed up.

Let's see what else we discovered as February ended....

+ A line of strong storms moved through the Columbus area - almost like clockwork. Today marks four years since the North Columbus and Americus tornadoes, and Monday marked two years since the Salem tornado. For some odd reason, the March 2009 snowfall isn't following after it.

+ Valley Police told WLTZ a man was arrested on charges of stealing 280 U.S. treasury bonds. We should all be relieved by this news -- as it's proof China doesn't own every last one of them.

+ Sumter County school bus drivers staged a protest of proposed staff cuts, as one-third of them didn't bother reporting for work. Those drivers may receive awards today from the promoters of that campaign against child obesity.

+ Alabama Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey called on residents to contact their state Senator and House member at least twice a month. That may sound absurd, but keep something in mind. Since Governor Robert Bentley announced three-percent proration Monday, the public school teachers are bound to do it.

+ Instant Message to World Wrestling Entertainment: I know your works too well. C'mon, admit it - this is all a stunt to put Charlie Sheen on the card at Wrestlemania in Atlanta, isn't it?

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