SmartFinancial in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., has agreed to merge with Cornerstone Bancshares in Chattanooga, Tenn.

SmartFinancial shares would be converted to Cornerstone stock, but the company would operate as SmartFinancial. Billy Carroll, SmartFinancial's chief executive, said the deal is valued at about $59.3 million. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of next year.

"Cornerstone has a solid reputation as one of the leading commercial lenders and most respected financial institutions in the booming Chattanooga market," Carroll said in a press release Monday.

Cornerstone would retain its independent brand immediately after the merger, but would assume the SmartBank name at some point in the future.

Miller Welborn, chairman of the $412 million-asset Cornerstone, will retain that title. Bill Carroll, SmartFinancial's chairman, will become vice chairman.

SmartFinancial — the parent company of SmartBank — has seven branches in eastern Tennessee and the Florida Panhandle. Cornerstone has five branches around Chattanooga.

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