Industries Banking/Finance

Union Bankshares CEO to step down in January

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G. William (“Billy”) Beale will step down early next year as CEO of Richmond-based Union Bankshares Corp., the parent company of Virginia’s largest community bank.

His successor on Jan. 2 will be John C. Asbury, the former president and CEO of privately-held First National Bank of Santa Fe in New Mexico. Asbury, 51, will join Union this October, becoming president and CEO of its banki, Union Bank & Trust .

In January, Asbury will become president and CEO of Union Bankshares in addition to heading the bank.

Beale, 66, will stay with Union, serving as executive vice chairman of the board and the bank until March 31. He will remain on the board after that, standing for re-election at the 2017 annual meeting.

Raymond D. Smoot, Jr., the chairman of the Union Bankshares, said the moves are the result of a comprehensive succession plan that included a nationwide search for a new CEO.

“It became clear that John’s demonstrated capabilities stemming from 29 years of leadership experience at some of the most well-known and highly-regarded banking institutions ideally suited him to lead our strategy of growing the Union franchise beyond the $10 billion asset threshold,” Smoot said in a statement.  “We are confident that this leadership succession plan solidly positions Union to generate consistent top-tier financial performance and attractive long-term shareholder returns.”    

Smoot noted that, under Beale’s leadership during the past 25 years, the company has grown from $180 million to $8.1 billion in total assets while giving shareholders a total cumulative return of more than 850 percent since Union went public in 1993.

Asbury, a Radford native, will become only the sixth president in the bank’s 114-year history. His last bank, First National Bank of Santa Fe, recently entered a merger agreement with Kansas-based Sunflower Financial that will create a regional community bank with $4 billion in assets.

Before that position, Asbury was senior executive vice president and head of the business services group at Regions Financial Corp. and Pacific Northwest region executive for business banking at Bank of America.

Asbury began his banking career at Wachovia Bank & Trust in Winston-Salem, N.C., after graduating from Virginia Tech.  He also holds an MBA from the College of William & Mary.

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