Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan last month said another round of consolidation in the USA could lead to the emergence of a new competitor.
Industry executives have long predicted a wave of bank mergers that until Thursday had played out only in smaller or midsize deals.
Even with the added size, the company will represent only about a third of the lending and deposit portfolios of the largest USA banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America.
The bank's stock rose nearly 4 percent percent by the close of the market to $50.46 and was up even more in after-hours trading. BB&T rose 2.9 percent.
The deal calls for both banks to leave their roots behind.
The company's new headquarters in Charlotte will include an expansive Innovation and Technology Center to drive digital growth and development.
The bank created by the merger will get a new name, which has not been announced, and a new headquarters in Charlotte.
The deal came together quickly, and the integration process will start next week, according to King.
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"Today, it is really hard to imagine not being a bank at scale", she said. "We talked about disrupt to thrive, and this is it - this is kind of the ultimate disrupt to thrive", King said. "In a relatively short period of time, we were able to put the deal together".
The new organization will have $442 billion in assets, $301 billion in loans, and $324 billion in deposits serving more than 10 million households in the United States.
The two banks have always been considered natural partners and advisers said they do not expect another bank to make a bid.
The transaction will provide an estimated $1.6 billion of synergies by 2022, the press release said.
BB&T will own 57 percent of the combined company and SunTrust shareholders will own about 43 percent. It is offering SunTrust shareholders a premium on Wednesday's closing price of 1.295 BB&T shares for each SunTrust share.
In the Baltimore metro area, BB&T has 69 branches with $5.47 billion in deposits for a market share of 7.5 percent, according to the FDIC. "More banks is better than fewer banks". The merger will generate an internal rate of return of about 18 percent.
"Scale is the game here", Ken Usdin, a bank analyst at Jefferies Financial Group Inc., wrote in a note to clients. Banks complied, and the industry, for the most part, regained its financial footing. Wells Fargo merged with Wachovia, JPMorgan acquired Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual and Bank of America purchased Merrill Lynch. The value of mergers and acquisitions in the USA financial-services sector more than doubled to US$196.5 billion in 2018 from US$82.3 billion in 2017, EY said. The top tier US lenders will likely sit out this wave of consolidation, blocked from getting bigger by political and regulatory hurdles. He will remain on the board of directors until the end of 2023. After that, he'll serve a further six months as executive chairman.