South Carolinas biggest homegrown bank buying Savannah lender
The biggest bank based in the state is beefing up its coastal presence on the South Carolina-Georgia border.
Expansion-minded SCBT Financial Corp. said Wednesday it is buying The Savannah Bancorp Inc. for about $67 million in stock.
“The cultures of our two organizations are very similar and we believe this partnership is a great opportunity for the customers, employees and shareholders of both companies,” said Robert R. Hill Jr., president and CEO of SCBT.
The acquired company has two lending subsidiaries: The Savannah Bank and Bryan Bank & Trust, which have a combined 11 branches in the Palmetto and Peach states.
The Savannah Bancorp also owns Minis & Co. Inc., a registered investment adviser and was a major attraction for SCBT. Another lure was the Savannah Bancorp’s mortgage operations and a local economy that includes one of the nation’s biggest container ports and a thriving tourism industry, Hill said.
“All that has created really strong demographics,” he said.
The deal gives the South Carolina bank owner its first foothold in Savannah while bolstering its presence on and around Hilton Head Island. John Pollok, SCBT’s chief operating officer, told analysts that he expects at least one branch to be shuttered in South Carolina because of its proximity to another office.
The deal has been unanimously approved by the companies. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter.
SCBT expanded into the Charleston region about five years ago and is now the largest bank headquartered in the state as measured by its $4.4 billion in total assets.
It will crack the $5 billion asset mark with the Savannah Bancorp deal, which is its second negotiated buyout in the past nine months. The other was Peoples Bancorporation of the Upstate. SCBT has also bought three failed banks since January 2010.
Hill did not rule out future acquisitions. SCBT has been positioning itself to be a “consolidator” of banks in the Carolinas and Georgia.
“We’ve ... said we’re on the path of doing two a year if it makes sense,” Hill said. “We don’t feel boxed into that timing whatsoever. ”
Shares of SCBT rose 11 cents, or 3 percent, to close at $37.32 on Wednesday.
Reach John McDermott at 937-5572.