Two South Carolina banking companies announced late Wednesday that they are suspending their merger plans because of a recently filed lawsuit against the would-be buyer.

RHBT Financial Corp. of Rock Hill's postponement of its purchase of $79 million-asset Ridgeway Bancshares came about four weeks after participants in an investment program alleged in the lawsuit that Rock Hill Bank, a subsidiary of $199 million-asset RHBT, and one of its loan officers broke a contract and conspired to defraud the participants.

RHBT president and chief executive officer J.A. Ferguson Jr. said in a news release that "because of the distractions" from the suit "it simply makes sense to suspend merger negotiations for the current time."

The acquisition deal was announced in June.

Mr. Ferguson said in the release that the companies have not set plans to get back together, but they "hope to be able to do so" at some point.

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