SunTrust Banks Inc. on Thursday named William H. Rogers Jr. as president and chief executive, answering a long-standing question over who would succeed James M. Wells 3rd as he neared retirement.

Rogers, 53, who was named chief operating officer in November 2010, has served as president of the Atlanta bank since December 2008. There has been speculation that Rogers was being groomed as Wells' successor ever since he took over the presidency from him.

Rogers began his career in 1980 at a SunTrust predecessor company, Trust Company of Georgia.

Wells, who was named CEO in 2007 and chairman in 2009, will serve as executive chairman through his planned retirement on December 31.

The changes are effective immediately, the bank said.

Also Thursday, SunTrust said it earned $38 million, or 8 cents per share, after paying preferred dividends. That compares with a loss of $229 million, or 46 cents per share, a year earlier.