Pinnacle Financial Partners in Nashville, Tenn., has agreed to buy a bigger stake in Bankers Healthcare Group in Southwest Ranches, Fla.

The $8.7 billion-asset Pinnacle will pay $114 million in cash and stock to boost its ownership from the 30% stake it bought last February to 49%. BHG's founders and executive officers own the rest of the company. The deal is expected to be completed by early March.

BHG's executives also agreed to extend their stay with the company as part of the new deal. BHG, formed in 2001 to provide financing for health care professionals, has provided more than $2 billion in funding for personal and commercial loans, credit cards and insurance services.

"Our partnership with Pinnacle has better positioned us to continue our rapid growth and profitability," BHG Chief Executive Al Crawford said in a Wednesday press release. "We expect that this additional investment will open up new opportunities for both firms."

BHG's income contributed 26 cents to Pinnacle's fully diluted earnings per share last year. The added stake is expected "to further increase and diversify" Pinnacle's fee income, Pinnacle President and CEO Terry Turner said in the release.

Pinnacle also announced Wednesday that its fourth-quarter earnings rose 43% from a year earlier, to $26.9 million, or 65 cents a share.

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