Three Buyers Found For N.C. Divestitures

Three North Carolina bank companies have struck deals to buy nine branches that are being divested because of an in-state merger deal.Rocky Mount, N.C.-based Centura Banks Inc. said in the summer that it would buy Triangle Bancorp Inc. in Raleigh, N.C., for about $608 million. To win regulatory approval for the in-state deal, Centura decided to divest the nine branches.

NewSouth Bancorp in Washington, N.C., said this week that it would buy six Triangle branches in eastern North Carolina for an undisclosed amount. The deal would boost deposits at $300 million-asset NewSouth by about 66%, to about $370 million.

Gateway Bank and Trust Co., Elizabeth City, is planning to buy two Triangle branches. The acquisitions would double assets at one-year-old Gateway to about $70 million.

"We're very excited about this expansion because it's an important step in achieving our goal of becoming a regional community bank in northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia," sand D. Ben Berry, Gateway's president and chief executive officer.

Meanwhile Waccamaw Bank, a two-year-old institution in Whiteville, N.C., would buy the final branch, in Chadbourne, N.C. The sales are expected to close in the first quarter.

- Alan Kline

Shareholders Approve Wash. Banks' Merger

Harbor Bancorp Inc. and Pacific Financial Corp, both based in Aberdeen, Wash., said their shareholders have approved a merger of equals that would form a $250 million-asset holding company with 10 branches.Pacific Financial shareholders will receive 0.785 shares of Harbor's stock for each share they own. Both banks would continue to operate independently and maintain their names, boards of directors, and branches. The combined holding company would be known as Pacific Financial Corp.

Harbor, founded in 1979, is the parent of Bank of Grays Harbor. Pacific Financial, formed in 1971, is the parent of Bank of Pacific. The merger was expected to close this week.

Last year Harbor had agreed to be bought by Heritage Financial Corp. of Olympia, Wash., but scuttled the deal after Heritage's stock price dropped.

- Matt Andrejczak

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