First Union Corp., retreating from marginal markets in Georgia, agreed to sell six branches with $193 million in total deposits to three different financial institutions. No terms were disclosed.
David Carroll, president of First Union's Georgia subsidiary, said all six branches were situated in rural counties outside of Atlanta that "are not growing or growing more slowly than the rest of the state" and where First Union has small market share.
"We invest a lot in our distribution network and automation and training. Without the critical mass and the ability to grow, it didn't make sense to be there," Mr. Carroll said.
Three branches, in Sylvania, Waycross, and Vidalia, went to a Macon-based thrift, First Liberty Financial Corp.
Another savings and loan, Bankers First Corp., Augusta, bought branches in Chatsworth and Dublin. Allied Bankshares Inc., which owns community banks in northeast Georgia, bought a branch in Washington.
Mr. Carroll said "there's always the possibility" that First Union, which will be left with 153 branches in Georgia, could sell a few more. But, he added, "I think it's fair to say we've got our Georgia - franchise 'rightsized.' We'll be-moving around-in-the counties we're in, but I don't really see us divesting any more. The economics would have to change."
First Union National Bank of Georgia will retain all the assets of the six branches being sold. The deposits sold constitute 3% of its total deposits of $6.7 billion.
Mr. Carroll said two of the branches had belonged to thrifts that First Union acquired in 1992. And even the commercial bank branches had "S&L-ish" characteristics, such as a heavy reliance on certificates of deposits and low-yielding loans.
"We can replace that funding with borrowed funds at lower cost;' Mr. Carroll said. "We're taking capital and putting it in markets that will grow. We intend to grow as aggressively as we can in other Georgia markets."
First Union National Bank of Georgia is the third-largest bank in the state, with assets of $11.8 billion.