First Citizens BancShares Inc. in Raleigh, N.C., has retired its IronStone Bank brand and converted IronStone's 58 branches into branches of its First Citizens Bank.

The $21 billion-asset company established IronStone as a federally chartered thrift in 2003 as a platform for expansion into states outside of traditional markets. By the end of last year, the thrift had operations in 12 states stretching from Florida to Texas to the Pacific Northwest.

In January First Citizens merged the charters of its bank and thrift units, but said then that it was retaining the IronStone brand for the foreseeable future. On Tuesday, the company, which has been an active acquirer of failed banks, said that it has eliminated the IronStone division and that it plans to change the signs on all IronStone branches in early 2012. First Citizens now has more than 450 branches in 17 states.

"Unifying our IronStone franchise under the First Citizens banner enhances our national brand," said First Citizens Bank Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Frank B. Holding Jr. "The ability to take advantage of First Citizens' strength and reputation positions us for the future. The combined bank provides a larger branch network for our clients and gives us greater opportunities for improved efficiencies and growth."

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