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Banks are on the hunt for deals: two in Georgia on Tuesday

Two banks in Georgia and North Carolina both announced acquisitions Tuesday that will add territory in each other’s states.

Blairsville-based United Community Banks said it is acquiring Four Oaks Fincorp. in a deal that will add 14 branches, mostly in the Raleigh, N.C., market. The deal for the parent company of Four Oaks Bank & Trust, mostly in stock, is valued at $124 million.

Meanwhile, Franklin, N.C., based Entegra Financial Corp. said it is buying Chattahoochee Bank of Georgia, picking up a bank branch in Gainesville and a loan office in Duluth. The cash and stock deal is valued at $34.9 million.

So far this month, that makes four acquisitions involving Georgia banks, including three cross-border deals in North Carolina and Alabama.

On June 15, Atlanta-based State Bank Financial Corp. announced an all-cash deal to buy Birmingham-based AloStar Bank of Commerce for about $196 million.

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And on June 1, Charter Financial Corp., in West Point, said it is buying Resurgens Bancorp in Tucker for $26 million.

Despite June’s cluster of deals, Georgia Bankers Association President Joe Brannen said the pace of deals isn’t unusual. He said the state usually sees a dozen or more bank acquisitions a year. There have been about a half-dozen acquisition announcements so far this year.

“We’re probably on target for this year,” he said. “They’re in areas of the state that are good growth markets.”

Georgia banks’ profits, loans and deposits all have been growing this year, along with the economy. Profits at the state’s 181 banks increased 6.2 percent in the first quarter over the previous year, while total loans grew 2.4 percent and total deposits grew 4.2 percent, according to the Georgia Bankers Association.

Bankers’ optimism also got a boost earlier this month when the U.S. Treasury Department released a nearly 150-page report outlining plans to lighten banking regulations and financial rules. The action was part of President Donald Trump’s promise to dismantle the sweeping Dodd-Frank financial reform law enacted after the 2008 financial crisis.

Last week, Raphael Bostic, the new president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, said he expects regulators to lighten the banking industry’s reporting requirements, especially for smaller banks.

“I think community banks have been caught up to some extent in the fallout from” the 2008 financial crisis, Bostic told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an interview last week.

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