BNC Bancorp in High Point, N.C., has delayed the closing of its acquisition of Southcoast Financial in Mount Pleasant, S.C., as the Federal Reserve has not completed its review of the deal.

The $5.7 billion-asset holding company for Bank of North Carolina reached its agreement for Southcoast in August and, at the time, said it expected to close the deal by the end of March. However, the Fed's prolonged regulatory review forced BNC and Southcoast to adjust the timing, Bob Huckabee, BNC's chief marketing officer, said in an interview.

BNC and the $503 million-asset Southcoast on March 22 signed a mutual waivers agreement, which extends to Aug. 1 the date when either bank can unilaterally terminate the merger agreement.

Additionally, BNC's core processor has yet to schedule a conversion of Southcoast's systems, Huckabee said.

"Scheduling with them and getting the Fed to approve all the paperwork is what becomes the problem," Huckabee said.

BNC still expects the Southcoast deal to close "in the near term," and for the core systems conversion to take place in June, Huckabee said.

A spokesperson for the Fed declined to comment on the specific reasons for its delay in approving the acquisition. The North Carolina Commissioner of Banks approved the merger in December.

BNC agreed to buy Southcoast for $95.5 million in cash and stock, which will allow it to expand its existing presence in the Charleston, S.C., market.

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