StellarOne (STEL) in Charlottesville, Va., has started searching for a new president and chief executive after O.R. Barham Jr. notified its board that he would retire at the end of 2013.

Barham has been president and CEO since Virginia Financial Group and FNB Corp. merged in March 2008 to form StellarOne. Barham also holds these same positions with the banking unit, StellarOne Bank. The parent company has $2.9 billion of assets.

Barham was familiar with integrations, having served as the president and CEO of Virginia Financial Group when it merged with Virginia Commonwealth Financial in January 2002.

StellarOne presented Barham several challenges when he took over. Unhappy FNB shareholders tried to block the deal and then worked to open their own bank. It sold 22,500 preferred shares to the Treasury Department in December 2008 as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Recent results have been upbeat. It finished repaying Tarp late last year. In January the company reported that fourth-quarter profit climbed 58% from a year earlier, to $3.8 million, as its loan-loss provision declined. For 2011, income rose 70% to $13.4 million.

StellarOne's board has formed a committee to evaluate internal and external candidates for Barham's replacement and has hired the search firm Russell Reynolds Associates to help in the process, the company said this week.

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