Edwin Hortman Jr., president and CEO of Ameris Bancorp in Moultrie, Ga., will step down later this year.

Dennis Zember Jr., who currently serves as chief operating officer of the company and CEO of the bank, will succeed Hortman, the $9 billion-asset Ameris said Wednesday. Hortman will retire on July 5 but will continue to serve as chairman.

Hortman said in a press release that the company has been working on succession planning for several years.

Dennis Zember Jr.
Dennis Zember Jr., who is currently chief operating officer at Ameris Bancorp, will take over as president and CEO later this year.

Zember, 48, joined Ameris as chief financial officer in 2005 after previously serving in the same role for Atlanta-based Flag Bank. In December, he was promoted to lead the bank, which has 97 locations across four states.

“The company has benefitted from Dennis's leadership for many years and we are confident in him and his executive team,” Hortman said in the press release. “Our investors and our customers should expect no change in the kinds of results that have become our standard."

Hortman joined Ameris in the 1990s and has served in various leadership positions since then. He became CEO in 2005.

Brady Gailey, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, wrote in a research note to clients that under Hortman’s leadership, Ameris has grown from $1 billion of assets serving mostly rural areas to now being in some of the most attractive markets in the Southeast. Ameris will have more than $11 billion of assets once its deal to buy Hamilton State Bancshares closes. The company has acquired more than a dozen banks during Hortman’s tenure.

Gailey added that the transition wasn’t a surprise and that Zember has been a “positive influence” at Ameris.

“Overall, Ed has done a great job of leading Ameris and creating shareholder value,” Gailey wrote.

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