Bank of the Ozarks (OZRK) in Little Rock, Ark., is raising its profile in North Carolina.

The $4 billion-asset company announced Friday it is buying The First National Bank of Shelby in Shelby, N.C., for roughly $67.8 million in cash and stock.

The deal would give Bank of the Ozarks, which currently has offices in Charlotte and Wilmington, N.C., 14 offices in a four-county area roughly 46 miles west of Charlotte and follows the company's purchase in December of the $167 million-asset Genala Banc, the parent of The Citizens Bank of Geneva, Ala. for $27.5 million in cash and stock.

Shareholders of the $857 million-asset First National would receive shares of Bank of the Ozarks' common stock and cash. At least 51% of the deal would be paid in stock. The purchase price includes $3.8 million in land on which some First National offices are located that Bank of the Ozarks would buy from various owners.

"Bank of the Ozarks has been operating in nearby Charlotte for over a decade, giving us good insight into the market," George Gleason, the company's chief executive, said in a press release. "We are pleased to expand our service area to these additional communities."

The deal is expected to close by the second or third quarter.

The law firm of Kutak Rock advised Bank of the Ozarks. Sandler O'Neill and the law firm of Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough advised First National.

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