First Citizens in N.C. Repurchases $92M in Stock from Departing Director

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First Citizens BancShares (FCNCA) has lost a piece of its history with the resignation of a long-time director.

The Raleigh, N.C., company also said in a regulatory filing Thursday that it repurchased more than $92 million in its Class B stock from Carmen Holding Ames. The sale reduces her stake in First Citizens to less than 3% of voting shares from 30% prior to the sale, which closed on Dec. 20, according to regulatory filings.

Ames, who joined the board in 1996, is the granddaughter of Robert Holding, who became First Citizens' president and chairman in the 1930s. Her father, Lewis Holding, was the company's chief executive from 1957 to 2008, when he handed the reins to his nephew, Frank Holding Jr. Lewis Holding died in 2009.

The $21.2 billion-asset company said in its regulatory filing that Ames' departure "was not in connection with any known disagreement." Efforts to reach the company and a lawyer for Ames were unsuccessful.

Ames sold the company nearly 600,000 shares of class B stock at $155 a share. The sale liquidated most, if not all, of her class B shares in First Citizens. First Citizens said in a March filing that Ames also owned more than 960,000 shares of class A stock. Each class B share is equivalent to 16 class A shares; members of the Holding family have controlled most of the class B shares.

First Citizens is the second-largest family owned bank in the country, trailing only the $27.1 billion-asset BOK Financial (BOKF) in Tulsa, Okla. Three members of the Holding family remain on First Citizens' board.

The Holding family also has large, if not controlling, stakes in First Citizens Bancorp in Columbia, S.C., and three other North Carolina banks: Southern Bancshares, Fidelity BancShares and Heritage Bank. Ames is a director at two of those companies, according to a March regulatory filing.

First Citizens stated in Thursday's filing that the repurchase agreement with Ames was approved by the independent members of its board following a recommendation by a special committee that also consisted of independent directors.

The company has grown significantly in a number of far-flung states, such as California and Colorado, largely by buying failed banks.

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