First M&F Corp. in Kosciusko, Miss., is looking to shed six branches, or roughly 14% of its offices.

The $1.6 billion-asset company said late Thursday that it will sell or close the branches as part of an operation it is calling Project McKinley. First M&F said the initiative is driven by the need to improve efficiencies and better prepare the company for uncertain economic times or growth opportunities.

The efficiency ratio at First M&F's bank was 78.22% at June 30, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The industry average was 61.15%.

The company has 44 branches in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Tennessee. It plans to market one Alabama branch, four Mississippi branches and one in Florida. The Florida branch, located in Niceville along the Panhandle, is already under contract to be sold to First Florida Bank in Destin.

Tied to the expected branch sale, First M&F also said it would cut its work force by 11%, which would result in annualized cost savings of $4 million. It said it would record charges for the effort during the third and fourth quarters. It expects to close or sell the branches by the end of the year.

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