updated 1/25/2011 2:45:59 PM ET 2011-01-25T19:45:59

RALEIGH, N.C., Jan. 25, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Hope Holding Connell has been elected vice chairman of First Citizens BancShares Inc. (Nasdaq:FCNCA) and its First Citizens Bank subsidiary by the company's board of directors.

Hope Holding Connell elected Vice Chairman at First Citizens BancShares, First Citizens Bank




A photo accompanying this release is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=8668

As vice chairman, Connell will help shape corporate strategies and assume greater responsibilities in managing First Citizens' national franchise, which operates 443 offices in 17 states and the District of Columbia. She will continue her duties as president of First Citizens' IronStone Bank division and as the company's top business banking executive.

"Hope Connell has an extensive record of outstanding performance in all areas of banking and management," said BancShares Chairman and CEO Frank B. Holding Jr. "Her 25 years of financial service experience, her leadership and business acumen will help guide our company toward even greater success."

Connell, 47, joined Raleigh-headquartered First Citizens Bank in 1985 and came up through the ranks, serving in leadership positions from branch manager to commercial banking segment manager.

Since 2006, Connell has been president of IronStone Bank, a former BancShares subsidiary that recently completed an in-house merger with First Citizens Bank. Connell remains president of the IronStone Bank division, which has 58 offices in prominent markets across the country.

Connell was named executive vice president at First Citizens in 2002 and has since directed the company's commercial and business banking efforts, which have won numerous honors for client satisfaction and service. The bank's business services group comprised of business and treasury, working capital finance, international, leasing and insurance services continues to report to her.

Also in 2002, Connell was elected to the board of directors of First Citizens Bank and IronStone Bank and the executive committee of First Citizens Bank and First Citizens BancShares. Along with her brother, Chairman and CEO Frank B. Holding Jr., she is among the third generation of the Holding family to lead the company. Her father, Frank B. Holding Sr., is executive vice chairman.

In 2005, Connell's prominence in the financial services industry led to her being named the first woman to serve as chair of the North Carolina Bankers Association (NCBA), a one-year position previously held by her grandfather and her uncle.

Connell provides key leadership on several boards and organizations. She is a member of the boards of directors of Southern BancShares (N.C.) Inc., the Yadkin Valley Company and the North Carolina Community Foundation of Wake County. She also works with the YMCA of the Triangle on its long-range planning and personnel committees and as treasurer of the Frank B. and Ella Ann Holding Foundation. She also served on the steering committees for the 2001 and 2007 U.S. Women's Open Golf Championships.

A native of Smithfield, N.C., Connell earned bachelor's degrees (1985) in English and Economics and an MBA (1990) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She resides in Raleigh.

Raleigh-headquartered First Citizens BancShares, Inc. (Nasdaq:FCNCA) is the 46th largest financial holding company in the United States with $20.8 billion in assets. BancShares recently ranked fourth-best in the nation on a Forbes' list of the 100 largest banks and thrifts. Subsidiary First Citizens Bank and its IronStone Bank division are committed to providing superior financial services to individual customers and small to mid-sized businesses. Founded in 1898, First Citizens Bank has received multiple national awards for customer satisfaction and overall stability and security, including a five-star superior ranking by independent bank rating firm BauerFinancial Inc. of Coral Gables, Fla., (bauerfinancial.com). For more information, visit firstcitizens.com or call toll-free 1-888-FC DIRECT (1-888-323-4732).

The photo is also available via AP PhotoExpress

CONTACT:  Frank Smith
          First Citizens BancShares
          (919) 716-4121

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