HomeTrust Bank in Asheville, N.C., will convert from a mutual thrift to a stock-owned bank in order to raise capital for future organic growth and possible acquisitions within North Carolina.

The $1.6 billion-asset company said Thursday that it intends to form a holding company, HomeTrust Bancshares Inc., to sell shares to depositors and certain borrowers in a subscription and community offering. The stock offering will be first made available to customers who had deposits with the bank on Nov. 30, 2010, and later opened to residents of communities where it has branches.

"The stock offering will allow us to support future internal growth through increased lending and deposits," Ed Broadwell, HomeTrust's chairman and chief executive, said in a news release. "It will also provide us with additional financial resources and operating flexibility to add new community bank partners in western North Carolina and the North Carolina Piedmont."

The conversion is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2012. The company did not say how much capital it was looking to raise.

HomeTrust has 20 branches throughout central and western North Carolina. It acquired two banks in 2010 - Industrial Federal Savings Bank in Lexington, N.C., and Cherryville Federal Savings and Loan Association in Cherryville, N.C., according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

This news of its planned conversion was first reported by Asheville's Citizen-Times.

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