The boards of directors of HomeTrust Bancshares (HTBI) and Bank of Commerce have reached a definitive agreement to form a strategic partnership for an undisclosed price.

The transaction announced on Tuesday is expected to close in the third quarter, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals and Bank of Commerce shareholder approval.

Bank of Commerce (BONC.OB) is a state chartered $129 million-asset institution based in Charlotte, N.C. that focuses on independently owned businesses, their owners and employees.

The merger aims to create an institution with approximately $2.2 billion in assets. It would follow HomeTrust acquisition of another $498 million in assets in January, when it purchased Jefferson Banchshares. That deal expected to close in the second quarter.

"Expansion into the Charlotte market complements our footprint and better positions our current locations in Cleveland and Davidson Counties for additional growth," Dana Stonestreet, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Asheville, N.C.-based HomeTrust said in a press release. "We are well-positioned to forge additional community bank strategic partnerships both across the Carolinas and Tennessee."

Wesley Sturges, president and chief executive officer of Bank of Commerce, said in a press release that the current customer service and lending staff will remain in place. The bank anticipates adding new employees as part of this merger, he added.

HomeTrust Bank was advised in the transaction by Sandler O'Neill Partners and Silver, Freedman, Taff & Tiernan as legal counsel. Raymond James Financial advised Bank of Commerce and Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, served as legal counsel.

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