The owner of the largest and oldest bank based in the Charleston region reported a $4.3 million quarterly profit Thursday, which was down from the prior quarter but up from first three months of 2012.

North Charleston-based First Financial Holdings Inc. earned $6.8 million for the three months ended Dec. 31 and $770,000 a year ago.

Per-share net income was 26 cents for the most recent quarter.

First Financial owns the 78-year-old First Federal Bank. The companies announced on Feb 19 they plan to merge with Columbia-based SCBT Financial.

The $304 milion stock swap is expected to close in the third quarter.

“We have begun the process to seek required approvals from shareholders and regulators and have commenced to collaborate on integration plans so that we can leverage the best practices of both companies,” First Finacial CEO Wayne Hall said in statement.

The name of the combined banks has not been determined. The merged company will have 148 retail branches in three states and be the fifth-largest lender in South Carolina based on deposits.