Ameris Bancorp in Moultrie, Ga., has agreed to buy Jacksonville Bancorp in Florida.

The $5.2 billion-asset Ameris said in a press release Thursday that it will pay $96.6 million in cash and stock for the $502 million-asset Jacksonville Bancorp. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter.

The purchase price values Jacksonville Bancorp at 144% of its tangible book value. Ameris also said that 75% of the consideration would involve stock.

The acquisition "will accelerate our growth momentum in the greater Jacksonville" area, Edwin Hortman Jr., Ameris' president and chief executive, said in the release. "We believe that this transaction will allow us to better serve our combined customer base, provide greater access to the variety of banking services we offer and help us build a stronger presence to positively impact our community."

Ameris will gain eight branches in the Jacksonville area, along with a cyber-banking site. Ameris said it expects to incur $7 million in after-tax expenses tied to the deal, though it also plans to cut about 30% of Jacksonville Bancorp’s noninterest expenses, with most of the cuts taking place next year.

Keefe, Bruyette & Woods and Rogers & Hardin advised Ameris. Hovde Group and Smith MacKinnon advised Jacksonville Bancorp.

Ameris announced plans earlier this year to buy Merchants and Southern Banks of Florida in Gainesville, along with a number of Bank of America branches. The company also disclosed recently that it would close 10 branches as part of a plan to reduce annual operating costs by $5 million.

Jacksonville Bancorp counts Eugene Ludwig, CEO of Promontory Financial Group and former comptroller of the currency, among its investors. The company has spent recent years cutting costs to return to profitability.

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