Deal in S.C. to Create State's No. 3 Thrift

SouthBanc Shares Inc. in Anderson, S.C., announced a deal this week to buy Heritage Bancorp in nearby Laurens, S.C., for $77 million of cash and stock.The deal would create the third-largest thrift company in South Carolina, with $670 million of assets and 10 branches. SouthBanc Shares, with $374 million of assets, would pay about $17.65, or 1.04 times book value, for each share of Heritage stock, the company said Monday.

SouthBanc Shares is the parent of Perpetual Bank, and Heritage operates Heritage Federal Bank. Heritage Federal would operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of SouthBanc Shares. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter.

- Alan Kline

Health-Care Lender to Report Losing Year

Loan troubles may have cost Professional Bancorp more than $8 million in 1999.The Santa Monica, Calif., company said in a preliminary earnings release Monday that it expects to report a $6 million loss for the fourth quarter and a full-year loss of $8.4 million. Professional, which attributed the losses to three problem loans worth $9.5 million, earned $392,000 in the fourth quarter of 1998 and $1.4 million for the year.

A losing fourth quarter would be the second in a row for $270 million-asset Professional, which specializes in lending to doctors, dentists, and other health-care providers. The parent of First Professional Bank lost $2.4 million in the quarter that ended Sept. 30.

Professional said it would boost loan-loss reserves by $8.4 million for the quarter and $14 million for the year. It said the bad loans were made to borrowers outside of its health-care lending niche.

Professional also announced that its chairman, Julie Thompson, has resigned. She left, the company said, to focus on her new business, InSync Research in Aliso Viejo, Calif., a consulting firm that offers sales and client management solutions for technology companies.

- Matt Andrejczak

L.A. Company Makes 2d Branch-Sale Deal

As part of its plan to shed one-fourth of its deposits, Bank Plus Corp. in Los Angeles has agreed to sell two branches to Firstfed Financial Inc. in Santa Monica, Calif., for an undisclosed sum.The Culver City and West Hollywood branches have about $160 million of deposits. Bank Plus agreed last week to sell three branches, with about $172 million of deposits, to Jackson Federal Bank in San Bernardino, Calif. The two deals cover 13% of Bank Plus' deposits as of Sept. 30.

Bank Plus, which has $3 billion of assets, said it will use the proceeds from the branch sales to offset losses in its credit card business. Firstfed operates 24 branches in Southern California with $3.9 billion of assets. Its acquisition of the Bank Plus branches is expected to be completed by the end of the quarter.

- Alan Kline

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