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Bryan Bank merges, stays local
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Bryan Bank and Trust and its sister company Savannah Bank officially have a new owner following the Wednesday announcement of the merger of parent company The Savannah Bancorp with South Carolina-based SCBT Financial Corp. — but it will be “business as usual” for local customers, according to Jimmy Burnsed, chairman and CEO of Bryan Bank and Trust.

Burnsed said the news is “very big” for the bank and just as good for customers.

“Obviously I think it helps the banking situation as far as we’re concerned,” he said Thursday. “(SCBT) is a pretty phenomenal company, and we’re looking forward to all that they can provide us with.”

And aside from what they read in the papers, customers won’t necessarily notice the change in the banks’ ownership.

“The biggest issue is that we stay with the local name, local management and local decisions — it’s business as usual,” Burnsed said. “But this overcomes some of the issues we’ve had with loan problems and gives us an extra boost.”

He explained that the economic downturn created its own set of problems for the bank and were exacerbated by the following real estate bust that caused home values to drastically fall. Bryan Bank and Trust entered into a consent order in March with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in an effort to strengthen its financial position.

“All of us are really excited about basically having a new lease on life,” Burnsed said. “We can get back to doing banking the way we have in the past — taking care of the community’s banking needs.

“In Bryan County, we are seeing an uptick in the economy everyday,” he continued. “There are still parts that are struggling, but Richmond Hill — and all of Bryan County — will be just fine in the coming months and years, and we look forward to being the bank of choice in the community.”

According to a press release announcing the merger, following the transaction the company will have about $5.3 billion in total assets, $4.5 billion in total deposits, $3.8 billion in total loans and a network of 87 branches in the Carolinas and Georgia.

The two companies currently serve four common counties in South Carolina and Georgia, where the combined company will have $1.2 billion in deposits earning it the No. 3 ranking in market share.

"We are pleased and excited to be joining forces with such a high-performing and well capitalized banking company,” said J. Curtis Lewis III, chairman of The Savannah Bancorp Board. “We believe this combination will be a win-win for our respective shareholders, and will enable our talented staff to continue to focus on what they do best — serving our communities.”

The merger agreement has been unanimously approved by the board of directors of each company. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2012 and is subject to customary conditions, including approval by both SCBT and SAVB shareholders.  At closing, The Savannah Bancorp will be merged into SCBT Financial Corporation.



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