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Troubled Upstate-based CertusBank sells its last South Carolina branches

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Troubled Upstate-based CertusBank sells its last South Carolina branches

CertusBank opened its only Charleston branch and regional headquarters at 174 Meeting St. (above) in March 2014. It closed the office this past summer.

A financially ailing Upstate bank that embarked on an ambitious expansion plan a few years ago has completed the sale of its only remaining South Carolina branches.

BNC Bancorp said it took over the seven former CertusBank locations on Monday morning. The roughly $15 million deal included $175 million in deposits and $188 million in loans.

The acquired branches are in Greenville, Spartanburg, Easley, Greer and Mauldin. They reopened this week under the BNC name. The High Point, N.C.-based buyer said it retained the branch employees.

BNC said the Upstate market is “one of the fastest growing and most dynamic regions in the Southeast and one where further expansion has been a high priority for the bank.”

For Certus, the sale is the latest step in a liquidation plan announced earlier this year.

The financially ailing Greenville-based bank is down to two brick-and-mortar locations in Georgia, which are scheduled to be sold by Dec. 31.

The Certus website shows the company still operates a network of automated teller machines at convenience stores and other retail locations in South Carolina and Georgia.

The lender already has shuttered its only Charleston branch and regional headquarters at 174 Meeting St.

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Last week, an Atlanta-based bank said it completed its acquisition of loans and deposits related to 14 CertusBank offices in Georgia and Florida.

“The planned transactions are the result of deliberate efforts to review CertusBank’s strategic options in light of its capital challenges and implement a course of action that provides the best available outcome for the bank’s customers, communities, teammates and stakeholders,” the company said in June, when it announced it was winding down operations.

The struggling lender has been shedding assets after reporting tens of millions of dollars in losses in recent years, including a $70 million deficit for 2014 and $21 million loss for the first half of 2015, according to filings with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

The bank’s parent was organized as a minority-owned financial institution in late 2009 by former Bank of America and Wachovia executives who raised $500 million to buy failed or failing lenders after the last recession.

Its first deal was the purchase of the insolvent six-branch CommunitySouth Bank and Trust in Easley more than four years ago. Three more takeovers followed, in Georgia and Florida.

Charleston was high on the bank’s list of primary expansion markets. It was the anchor tenant in a new office building at 174 Meeting, in the heart of the financial and tourist district. Certus moved into the high-end space just south of the City Market in March 2014.

Allegations of financial mismanagement pitting Certus’ financial backers against their top executives surfaced within a few weeks, followed by the senior management upheaval and lawsuits.

Contact John McDermott at (843) 937-5572.

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