North Carolina investment group buying Tennessee bank

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A group that abandoned plans to open a de novo in North Carolina will instead buy a bank one state over.

The former organizers of Community Bank of the Carolinas said in a press release Friday that they have an agreement to buy a controlling interest in the $42 million-asset Brighton Bancorp in Tennessee.

The group did not disclose the price of the all-cash deal, though it said it plans to inject additional capital into the bank.

Organizers will eventually open a loan production office in Winston-Salem, N.C., where they had originally planned to open a bank. The group will apply to convert the North Carolina office into a full-service branch.

A group led by Skip Brown has agreed to buy Brighton Bancorp in Tennessee.

Skip Brown, who led the de novo effort, would become Brighton’s CEO. John Phillips, Brighton’s president and CEO, would remain at the company as market president of Tipton County.

“After several months of analyzing more than a dozen banks, we have found Brighton to be an excellent fit for our growth strategy,” Brown said in the release.

“They give us a great platform from which we can execute a community bank model that will best serve customers in the Brighton and North Carolina market areas,” he added. “Brighton will give us an immediate book of loans and deposits, which generally takes a few years to produce through the de novo process.”

Brighton had $25 million in loans and $37 million in deposits on Dec. 31. The bank earned $41,000 last year, according to its call report.

Brown’s group announced plans in March 2018 to form a bank in central North Carolina, and eventually received conditional regulatory approval to open. The group withdrew its application in mid-2019 after it was unable to raise enough capital.

At one point, Brown had lined up an agreement to buy an unnamed bank with operations in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Brighton does not fit that description.

“We came close to meeting capital requirements in our IPO last year, but it has become clear that beginning further along in our community bank business model is certainly a greater benefit than starting out at the ground level,” Brown said in Friday’s release.

Several groups have attempted to open new banks in North Carolina in recent year. American Bank & Trust in Monroe and Triad Business Bank are the only ones to complete the de novo process.

Organizers of the proposed Spirit Community Bank failed to raise enough capital. The group behind Dogwood State Bank ended up buying an existing bank.

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