(Reuters) – A more permissive regulatory environment culminated Thursday in the biggest bank merger since the 2007-2009 financial crisis, and more deals are likely, analysts and investors said.

FILE PHOTO – A BB&T bank is pictured in Alexandria, Virginia July 22, 2010. REUTERS/Molly Riley

U.S. regional lender BB&T Corp said it will buy rival SunTrust Banks Inc for about $28 billion in stock.

The banks hope to close the deal later this year. The timetable would

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