Georgia banks to buy institutions in Athens and coastal South Carolina

An Atlanta bank that grew rapidly by buying up financial institutions after the financial crisis said Tuesday that it is buying an Athens-based bank.

The $68 million cash and stock deal by State Bank Financial Corp. will add National Bank of Georgia's offices in Athens and Gainesville to its 26-branch network in metro Atlanta, Middle Georgia and Augusta.

Meanwhile, another serial acquirer, Blairsville-based United Community Banks, said on Monday that it struck a deal to buy Tidelands Bank in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., expanding its reach in Charleston and coastal South Carolina.

State Bank & Trust said its deal adds will allow it to tap into the lucrative Athens market.

“This merger will give us the opportunity to enter the Athens and Gainesville markets with a strong management team that has been a significant part of each local community for over 30 years,” said State Bank and Trust CEO Tom Wiley. “These are both resilient markets that have shown steady growth over the years and are natural extensions of our existing footprint.”

State Bank and Trust’s parent company, which has $3.5 billion in assets, expects to complete the acquisition in the third quarter, subject to bank regulators’ approval. National Bank of Georgia has about $375 million in assets.

United Community Bank’s said it is paying $2.2 million for Tidelands Bank, plus $9 million to pay off the U.S. Treasury Departments bailout loans received during the financial crisis.

“The recession took its toll on Tidelands, as it did to so many other community banks in the Southeast,” said Jimmy Tallent, United’s CEO. “Despite their challenges, Tidelands’ bankers were able to build a solid franchise in outstanding markets with loyal customers and a core deposit base.”

Tidelands Bank has $466 million in assets and seven branches in metro Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head.