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Nationwide® Financial and SunTrust to Offer Co-Branded Proprietary Pension Program

PRNewswire-FirstCall
COLUMBUS, Ohio and ATLANTA
Feb 21, 2002

Nationwide Financial and SunTrust Banks, Inc. announced today a new proprietary partnership to develop, market and service retirement plans to SunTrust's small business and commercial customers. The program specifically targets companies developing new retirement plans or those companies whose existing plans have $2 million or less in assets.

This new alliance marks the first co-branded proprietary deal for Nationwide Financial's The BEST of AMERICA® Group Pension Series, which will begin selling The BEST of AMERICA® Retirement Resource program through SunTrust Securities Inc., a registered broker-dealer affiliate of SunTrust Banks, Inc.

"This partnership demonstrates our strategy to provide innovative solutions to help our partners meet their clients' retirement planning needs," said Matt Riebel, president, Nationwide Financial Institutions Distributors Agency Inc., the division of Nationwide Financial that provides long-term investment products to banks. "The group retirement plan market represents tremendous opportunity for financial institutions to grow their businesses. We have the capability and expertise to help our partners tap into this growth," Riebel said.

"The Best of America Retirement Resource Program offers a new, valuable retirement planning tool to our small business and commercial clients through their current SunTrust Securities Investment Consultant," said Peter Bielan, president, SunTrust Securities Inc. "Our customers -- who are accustomed to SunTrust's emphasis on client service -- will benefit from a new level of expertise in investment management, plan design and administration, technology and communication."

The BEST of AMERICA® Retirement Resource program offered through SunTrust Securities includes a fund selection consisting of 45 funds selected from strategic money managers including 10 funds from the STI Classic Funds. To assist in communicating retirement plan options and information, a new co- branded Web site, http://www.suntrust.bestofamerica.com/ , has been created, along with co-branded marketing materials and service support.

Nationwide Financial is one of the largest providers of 401(k) plans(1) in the United States today and offers a diverse selection of group retirement plan products and programs with The BEST of AMERICA® Group Pension Series.

Nationwide Financial Services, Inc., based in Columbus, is a leading provider of annuities, life insurance, retirement plans, mutual funds, and other financial services for individuals and institutional clients. The major operating subsidiary of NFS is Nationwide Life Insurance Company.

Nationwide Financial, with assets under management of more than $113 billion in 2001, is the retirement savings and income operation of Nationwide, a leading provider of diversified insurance and financial services. The parent company is ranked #127 on the Fortune 500 based on asset size. For more information about Nationwide Financial visit http://www.nationwidefinancial.com/.

SunTrust Securities, Inc. is the brokerage unit of SunTrust Banks, Inc. SunTrust Securities operates 33 offices and employs 347 investment consultants throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.

SunTrust Banks, Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, is one of the nation's largest commercial banking organizations. As of December 31, 2001, SunTrust had total assets of $104.7 billion and total deposits of $67.5 billion. The company operates through an extensive distribution network in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Tennessee, Virginia and the District of Columbia and also serves customers in selected markets nationally. Its primary businesses include deposit, credit, trust and investment services. Through various subsidiaries the company provides credit cards, mortgage banking, insurance, brokerage and capital markets services. SunTrust's Internet address is http://www.suntrust.com/ .

Before investing, understand that mutual funds and annuities are not insured by the FDIC, NCUSIF, or any other Federal government agency and are not deposits or obligations of, guaranteed by, or insured by, the depository institution where offered or any of its affiliates. Mutual funds and annuities involve investment risk and may lose value.

(1) Plansponsor.com 2001 Industry Survey

The BEST of AMERICA® Group Pension Series includes unregistered group fixed and variable annuities and trust programs. The unregistered group fixed and variable annuities are issued by Nationwide Life Insurance Company, Columbus, Ohio.

The BEST of AMERICA® Retirement Resource program is offered through SunTrust Securities, Inc., with trust services provided by Nationwide Trust Company, FSB. SunTrust Securities is a broker-dealer affiliate of SunTrust Banks, Inc. and a member of the NASD and SIPC. Nationwide Trust Company, FSB and its affiliates are not affiliates of SunTrust Banks, Inc.

For more complete information about the BEST of AMERICA Group Pension Series and Retirement Resource, including charges and expenses, please request an informational brochure and fund prospectuses. These are available by contacting your pension representative. Please read the informational brochure and fund prospectuses carefully before investing any money.

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SOURCE: SunTrust Banks, Inc.

Contact: Tiffany Swinehart, +1-614-677-4297, or goldstt@nationwide.com ,
or Molly Brinkman, +1-614-249-9944, or brinkmm@nationwide.com , both of
Nationwide; or Mike McCoy of SunTrust, +1-404-588-7230, or
michael.mccoy@suntrust.com