CertusHoldings in Greenville, S.C., is planning to exit North Carolina.
The $1.5 billion-asset Certus agreed on Tuesday to sell a branch in the Southpark area of Charlotte, N.C., to Aquesta Bank. John Poelker, Certus' chief executive, said in a press release tied to that sale that the company is looking to shed all of its branches in North Carolina.
"As we planned our exit from North Carolina, our number one priority was to partner with banks that would provide our customers with the same high level of service they have become accustomed to with Certus," Poelker said in the release. "We have gotten to know the great bankers at Aquesta Bank over the last few months and are absolutely confident that our customers will enjoy this new relationship."
CertusBank only had three branches and $85 milllion in deposits in North Carolina, based on June 2014 data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The Southpark branch, which is expected to change hands in July, had about $17 million of deposits. The bulk of Certus' branches are in Georgia, where it had 21 offices in mid-2014, and 12 in South Carolina.
"We will strive to make the transition not only seamless but believe it or not enjoyable," Jim Engel, Aquesta Bank's chief executive, said in the release.
CertusBank is continuing to move past its history of high expenses and heavy losses. The company previously agreed to sell its small-business finance unit to BankUnited, its home loan business to AmeriSave Mortgage and its brokerage and investment-advisory businesses to Eximius Holdings, in separate transactions.
Poelker was hired after Certus fired its founders last April. The company was founded in 2011 to buy failed banks, but disappointed its backers after recording pretax losses of more than $100 million in 2012 and 2013. The company also lost nearly $70 million last year.
In addition to its losses, Certus faces uncertainty due to the firing of its three founders, Milton Jones, Walter Davis and Angela Webb, who were terminated weeks after an American Banker article focusing on the bank's poor financial performance and conflicts with investors. A fourth founder, Charles Williams, stepped down in late March.
Shortly after being terminated, Jones, Davis and Webb filed a lawsuit against Certus and Benjamin Weinger, a hedge fund investor, for libel and conspiracy, alleging that the plaintiffs were defamed and then fired as part of a racist scheme to seize control of the company. The case is pending in the U.S. District Court for South Carolina.