North American Financial Holdings Inc. is set to pick up a big chunk of a North Carolina bank in a bid to build a Southeast powerhouse.

The heavily capitalized company said Thursday that it has agreed to buy 85% of the common stock in Capital Bank Corp. of Raleigh for $181 million. The $1.7 billion-asset Capital Bank would serve as the platform for North American's expansion. For Capital Bank the deal ends a long search for equity to rebuild capital after exposure to construction and land development loans damaged its asset quality.

Christopher Marshall, a North American executive, said his company would consolidate its other banks into Capital Bank, which "has a super brand." The assets of North American's bank holdings will total more than $5 billion. Marshall said there is "sufficient capital" to double the bank's size.

Eugene Taylor, the CEO at North American, would be Capital Bank's chief executive. Capital Bank CEO B. Grant Yarber and Michael Moore, the chief financial officer, are to remain senior executives. Taylor said the group will move "carefully" in the near term. Once it receives regulatory approval for the deal, cleans up Capital Bank and integrates into one public company, the company will look at internal growth and acquisitions.

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