SCBT buys back Treasury shares

South Carolina Bank and Trust

SCBT Financial Corp. said Wednesday it bought back all of the shares it sold in January under the U.S. Treasury's Troubled Assets Relief Program, making it the first bank in the Carolinas to give back the so-called TARP money.

The preferred stock was repurchased for about $64.8 million, the Midlands-based company said.

Treasury still owns a warrant giving it the right to buy 303,083 more common shares of SCBT. The company said Wednesday it had 15 days to decide whether to repurchase the warrant and that no decision had been made.

SCBT, parent of South Carolina Bank & Trust, is the third-largest bank owner based in the state. It has eight branches in the Charleston region.

The company applied on April 30 to buy back the stock with cash resources it had on hand.

Including SCBT, 18 banks headquartered in South Carolina have received nearly $626 million by selling shares to the Treasury under a key part of the federal government's economic stimulus plan. The goal was to infuse U.S. banks with more money and loosen up more credit for borrowers.

In announcing his company's plan to get out of the Treasury deal last week, Robert R. Hill Jr., SCBT's chief executive officer, said his company took the TARP money "only in an abundance of caution and always had the liquidity and capital to repay the funds."

The only local lenders to sell stock to the government were the owners of First Federal of Charleston and Tidelands Bank, which raised $65 million and $14.4 million from the sales last year, respectively.

The companies have not announced any plans to buy back their shares, but they have been paying dividends to the Treasury Department.

Separately, SCBT this week raised $29.9 million by selling 1.3 million shares of common stock to

investors. It said it will use the proceeds to bolster its balance sheet and "to take advantage of opportunities in the marketplace."

The company's stock slipped 34 cents Wednesday, or 1.5 percent, to close at $22.21.

Under the TARP

The S.C.-based banks that have sold stock to the government and the amount they received.

--BankGreenville (Greenville): $1 million

--Clover Community (Clover): $3 million

--Coastal Banking Co. (Beaufort): $10 million

--Congaree Bancshares (Cayce): $3.3 million

--First Community Corp. (Lexington): $11.4 million

--First Financial Holdings (Charleston): $65 million

--First Reliance Bancshares (Florence): $15.3 million

--Grandsouth Bancorp (Greenville): $9 million

--Greer Bancshares (Greer): $10 million

--Horry County State Bank (Loris): $12.9 million

--Peoples Bancorporation (Easley): $12.7 million

-- Provident Community (Rock Hill): $9.3 million

--Regional Bankshares (Hartsville): $1.5 million

--SCBT Financial Corp. (Columbia): $64.8 million

--Security Federal Corp. (Aiken): $18 million

--South Financial Group (Greenville): $347 million

--Southern First Bancshares (Greenville): $17.3 million

--Tidelands Bancshares (Mount Pleasant): $14.4 million